Standing on the Wall

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Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for Battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies and establish Thy justice among men and nations. –‘The Patton Prayer’

A church’s doctrinal teachings and your own personal beliefs may affect how you process the following information — and that’s as it should be. My goal here isn’t to convince you to change your mind about the ethos involved in physical security; but to consider appropriate measures and preparedness that best suits your school and/or church’s needs in a way that still meshes with your organization’s core values, principles, and abilities.

For instance, do you feel that any, all, or none of the following items should be available to your teachers, administrators, pastors and laypeople:

  • Lockable external doors
  • Fire extinguishers
  • First Aid kit
  • Publicly-accessible phone
  • Interior rooms that can be locked from the inside without a key (for refuge in an emergency)
  • Background checks on staff who care for children or may be alone with children at any time
  • Regular training for staff and volunteers that covers emergency preparedness

Few people can argue about whether anything in the above list is appropriate where the safety of others is one of your concerns and responsibilities.

Next, there are some things that may or may not fit everyone ideologically; but nonetheless are worth discussing — for instance, if you disagree with a tool or tactic on principle, be ready to discuss your backup or secondary plan to fill that need.

  • Security team/trained ushers on foot and patrolling hallways, aisle, doorways, parking lots
  • Alarm/surveillance system with video at entrances
  • Land-line (not cellular) phones in every room
  • Published policy (published to your members) on legal concealed-carry (this may or may not include your requirement or suggestion of formal training before being allowed on your private property; or it may clarify your zero-tolerance policy)
  • Protect & Serve Ministry (enlisting professional police, paramedic, and fire personnel who are members of your organization to provide time, attention, and visible presence to your campus in their off-work hours)

I’m hoping that some of these ideas spur discussion among church and school planners everywhere. And I’d like to close with a thought on training and mindset. Some organizations get a handful of eager volunteers who enjoy a day at the firing range, and who are legally able to carry concealed in their state — and then these people are deployed with as much care as possible in strategic locations around the facility. Or maybe some groups are happy to simply have a number of trusted individuals interspersed among the congregation (like plainclothes ‘Air Marshals’ on an airplane). But if every one of those individuals is not properly trained to react properly in an intense situation, your organization — and worse, the individuals under its roof — may be in double jeopardy when Bad Things Happen.

  • Make the effort to find people who have the right experience to assist you with your security plan, as well as individuals qualified to carry out that plan.
  • Know the legal ramifications of your plan, and the impact of actions or inaction you advise for your staff.
  • The very idea of an emergency indicates that something unexpected is occuring. Have discussions with your staff and membership about what they CAN expect or rely on being true when things can, do, and must happen in rapid fashion.

Like any good team, having good Leadership, Planning, Teamwork and Practice can make your environment a safer one so that people who visit can concentrate on your organization’s Message, and help them abandon their other worries at the door. Addressing security concerns quietly and effectively should mean that your Core Mission is the focus for those you serve — not the roof under which the service takes place.

LINK: “9 Lessons Learned from the Oikos College Shooting” (
LINK: church security manual (search on
LINK: “New Life Church Pastor Brady Boyd speaks out on church security preparedness” (
LINK: “Armed Vigilantes and Church Security” (
LINK: “Joined my Church’s Safety & Security team this week…” (
LINK: “The Gift of Fear and Other Survival Signals that Protect Us From Violence” (
LINK: “Security Guard: ‘God Guided Me And Protected Me'” (
LINK: “Sunday horror: Church shootings in Colorado; gunman killed by armed female church security staffer” (
LINK: “The Heroine Of The Colorado Springs Church Shooting” (
LINK: “Mika on Church Shootings: ‘Inane’ To Think Armed Citizen Can Make a Difference” (

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