Saturday, April 7, 2018

The Pitfalls of Implementing a Church Security Plan

Many churches recognize the need for security after a newsworthy event.

A few implement a plan, but too often, the plan becomes another binder on the shelf, or worse -- the planning process becomes an end in itself, generating reams of studies and procedures that are never implemented because they are too complex, resource heavy, and inflexible.

How can you avoid these dead ends?

How can you harness the expertise and energy of those in your congregation who desire to establish and serve in a security ministry?

First, be realistic. You cannot address all possible threats at all times. But you can address some threats -- start with those and then expand on the baseline.

Second, keep the committee small. Gaining consensus is easier with four than fourteen. Communication will be easier, decisions more rapid, and velocity improved.

Finally, choose implementable objectives and make them happen. Build on success and use the goodwill generated by a successful exercise to gain support for the next step.

Here is a suggested approach to successfully implementing a security approach in a local congregation:
  1. Identify a core group of qualified, committed members and form a security subcommittee. Keep it small (2 to 5)
  2. Develop an initial plan, then get leadership backing (best if a leader is part of the committee)
  3. Pick realistic, achievable objectives (see examples below)
  4. Create a security policy outline (see this post for a template)
  5. Develop and adopt a security policy
  6. Schedule an event (a fire drill is best – everyone knows how, it establishes an evacuation protocol, and can always be improved)
  7. Practice, Rehearse, Walkthrough (no surprises!)
  8. Coordinate with local LEO, Fire, EMS
  9. Build on success
  10. Develop and provide training tailored to your congregation
  11. Expand the core group as interest increases and after policies and protocols are established.
Examples of realistic short-term win policies that can be instituted with minimal turmoil include:
  • Fire drill
  • Door Locking policy
  • Accountability (who is where)
  • Security awareness for ushers/ greeters
“Security” shares the problems of economics or foreign policy -- everyone has an opinion, while experts can’t satisfactorily prove one course of action is superior to another.

Therefore, it is in the best interest of the church to leave the planning and policy-making to a small group with intimate knowledge of the church, potential threats, and the range of legal and practical responses available to civilians.

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