Wednesday, May 15, 2019

What Are We Defending?

Churches present unique security concerns. While a church must protect against harm to people and damage or loss of property, a church’s testimony is a unique quality subject to loss or damage. Businesses consider reputation and good will as assets, but it’s likely that a church’s testimony is its only asset, as congregational members change over time, buildings change, but ultimately the testimony of the church endures.

While new people can attend and buildings rebuilt, a poor testimony can condemn a church to a quick or slow death. Either way, the damage is deep and the results inevitable – unless God works a miracle.

Few churches have the resources to implement security access controls, and even if the resources are available, churches must remain open and welcoming to members, visitors, and strangers.
There are no clear rules for church security, as a “church” is simultaneously an assembly of individuals (some known to each other, some unknown), a place of business, and a corporation. Each definition carries different expectations for safety and security.[1]

Therefore, it’s critical that each church consider, document, and then adhere to security guidelines that comply with the jurisdictional law, the church’s ministry, and the testimony of the congregation.

Before implementing a security protocol, consider what you plan to protect and how. For example, you may want to implement a "no weapons on site" policy. But this will require installing metal detectors and guards at each entrance. What will this do to your church testimony? In some areas, this may bolster the church testimony. But in most parts of the United States, this would be considered extreme and would damage the church testimony. Would heavily armed, uniformed security guards hinder or help your church testimony? What would happen in the immediate aftermath of a civilian self-defense shooting on your property? What would be the best result? The worst?

Would security cameras be an asset or would it be off-putting?

While protection of people's physical security is important it is not binary (completely protected vs. untrammelled exposure to all hazards). It's a continuum, and you need to work through what is possible given the fiscal, physical, staff, capability, culture, and testimony aspects of each security measure.

[1] The ancient laws of sanctuary are not recognized by any state or federal law. Religious institutions don't have special permission to harbor criminals or protect them from the government.

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Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment! I appreciate your comments and will review and post if appropriate.

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