If you read through our posts, you will find several on Church Security. The first step in evaluating and improving your safety ministry efforts is a Site Assessment. During this process, our experienced security staff will sit down with you to learn about what is currently being done to address safety issues in your church. We will walk your facility with you, and we will generate a written report detailing the things you are doing well and making recommendations on the areas in which we think you could improve.
We have recently encountered a lot of churches that don't feel now is the right time to conduct this site assessment. Churches express concern that, "No one is in our building. Wouldn't it be better to do this AFTER we return to in-person worship?" Our answer is a resounding, "NO. Now is the perfect time to make some changes in your security ministry."
It's no secret that, in general, people don't like change. That is especially true of church folk. I think most churches probably hear, "we've never done it that way" more often than they hear, "Amen!" People fear change. And, truth be told, many of our recommendations regarding safety and security will require some changes to your operations. That is why we think NOW is the perfect time to dive into your security procedures and make some needed changes: while there is no one around to say, "We've never done it that way."
Now, we are not trying to be sneaky here. We are not trying to do things behind your congregants' backs. But, we have found it is much easier to accept change when it has already been done than to worry about it before it ever happens.
Let me give you an example:
One security lapse that we find in almost every church we visit is doors that are unlocked and un-monitored during Sunday worship service. Many churches think it is best to unlock every door and leave them unlocked all morning long, so that no matter where someone parks or what time they get there, they can walk in the nearest door. This is convenient for the member or visitor, but it is a security nightmare. If no one is monitoring that door, you have no idea who has entered your building, where they went after they entered, or what physical or mental state they were in when they entered. Were they acting strangely? Were they dressed inappropriately? Were they carrying a suspicious package? Were they injured and seeking help? With an open campus and no physical monitoring of the unlocked door, you have no way of knowing. From a welcoming perspective, this can be problematic as well. If a visitor unfamiliar with your campus wanders in one of these more remote unlocked doors and is not greeted, will they know where to go for worship / nursery / class / etc.? In most churches, the answer would be, "no."
So, if our suggestion is to lock certain doors and place signs on the doors directing people to enter through 1 or 2 specific locations, you can either make this change while your building is occupied and half your congregation has gotten used to using those doors again. Or, you can make that change while no one is worried about using the door and they can more easily adapt when they return.
Examples of these types of changes that we often need to recommend are:
locking exterior doors during service
securing interior access doors to safety-sensitive areas (like nursery)
changing offering / money handling procedures
securing the office / reception area during the week
installing electronic systems to aid in safety and security (cameras, remote access control, alarms, etc.)
All of these changes are accomplished more efficiently and with less disruption to your congregants' normal Sunday activities if they are done while your building is not occupied.
NOW is the perfect time to address your safety issues and to improve the overall experience for visitors to your campus.