Churches are meant to be sacred spaces where people can safely gather to worship. Unfortunately, they are not immune to emergencies and disasters. In the past, many small and even large churches didn’t feel the need for a robust security plan. Today, it’s wise for churches of all sizes to create a plan and invest in security to keep their members safe.
To create a church security plan, follow these steps: analyze threats, create a security team, consult with professionals, determine which security equipment you’ll need, develop security policies, train staff, and revisit the plan at least annually.
What Are Church Security Plans?
A church security plan is a carefully designed and written plan to keep the church and its occupants safe. Typically, the plan is written down so it can easily be followed. The plan should include the primary people involved in keeping the church safe as well as what those people should do in the event of an emergency or security threat. It’s important to regularly revisit the plan to ensure it is still accurate and up to date.
Is a Church Security Plan Necessary?
In an ideal world, a church security plan would not be necessary, but unfortunately, a strong security plan is absolutely necessary. Security plans help keep your congregation safe, and feeling safe and secure is imperative not just during worship, but at all times.
During worship, most churches let anybody in without any sign-in system or security check. While welcoming and usually a nonissue, this creates a security threat. And many churches are home to additional groups and activities throughout the week. Consider alcoholics anonymous meetings, boy scout gatherings, fundraising sales, and community closets. Many churches are also home to daycares and preschools. With so many people coming in and out, security should be a top priority.
During worship and at all times, churches may face emergencies or difficult situations. This can include fires, evacuations, robberies, weather emergencies, and health emergencies. Churches also face threats of terrorism and active shooters.
For these reasons, many churches have implemented strong security plans for the safety of their members and the community as a whole.
How to Create Church Security Plans
Creating church security plans requires thoughtful planning. Work together with leaders and representatives from the congregation to develop a security plan that works for your building(s). Follow these steps to create a church security plan.
- Analyze threats.
Before you can create a security plan, you need to analyze what your security threats are. Some threats will be the same across the country, such as fire or a health emergency. Other threats may be more likely to happen in specific areas, such as shootings, robberies, and natural disasters. When analyzing threats, consider the history and location of your church.
It’s also important to consider the makeup of your congregation. Your security plan might look different if you have a lot of children or elderly people who typically attend church. This is especially important to consider if there are steps leading to your sanctuary; that can make evacuation more difficult for these groups of people.
- Create a security team.
Once you’ve analyzed your threats, assemble a security team that is equipped to handle those threats. This is often a ministry that members of the church choose to serve on. Consider people with a background in security, law enforcement, or the military.
- Consult with professionals.
Make sure you bring in consultants, local law enforcement, or other security professionals to help develop your plan. You should also let local law enforcement know that you are working on a plan so they can be on the same page, and they can also let you know about their policies and procedures. You can even consider hiring a security company to complete a security assessment. This helps you see where your vulnerabilities are and what your top priorities should be when creating a security plan.
- Determine which security equipment you’ll need.
This can vary, but security equipment for churches often includes security cameras, access control systems, two-way radios, and alarm systems. Also, consider whether you want your security system to be professionally monitored and if you will hire someone in-house to monitor your security equipment.
- Develop security policies
This is where the meat of your plan lies and where you’re going to do the most work. For each possible emergency, decide what policies and procedures people should follow and what rules are you going to put in place. You also need to divide people into categories and determine what each category of people should do in the event of an emergency. Possible categories include the security team, leadership, childcare leaders, and the congregation.
Any security plan should be written very simply and should be easy for anybody to understand and follow. Outlining the plan in simple and thorough terms helps with staff training and makes roles clear. The better your plan is written, the more smoothly things will go in the event of an emergency.
- Train staff.
Once the plan is designed, train all necessary personnel. You likely don’t need to practice security drills with the entire congregation, but you should train those that are integral to security plans, which includes the security team and church leaders. Consider hiring outside companies to help train staff.
- Revisit the plan at least annually.
At least once per year, revisit and reassess the plan. Make sure it is still accurate and reflects best practices. Staff should also brush up on training at least once per year.