Making Churches Safe

November 11, 2008 by

If you do something as simple as watch the news for a few minutes, you’ll see that this world isn’t 100% safe.

Watch for a few weeks, and you’ll probably see a story about how even being at church isn’t 100% safe. And churches are taking measures to fight against this.

St. John United Church of Christ in Robinson, Texas, is now locking its doors during services on Sunday mornings.

Some churches are going a step further. They are using armed guards to keep watch at their church services. One particularly interesting idea from this article was that “In states where people are allowed to carry concealed weapons, volunteers have become a cost-effective means of providing the security that some churches have come to rely on.”

So what’s a church to do? Well, like any good reader of this blog, they should consider the message they are communicating with these actions.

Are you marketing fear? If you sat down and asked yourself about your local area, are you sure that it is so fundamentally unsafe that you need to take drastic measures, or are your fears being exaggerated by the fact that the news has to selectively report the scary stories? I would guess most areas aren’t actually as dangerous as we think they are based on the stories we hear and the news we see.

Are you creating comfort? Do attenders really feel more comfortable knowing that someone around them is a volunteer with a concealed weapons permit? Does it make them feel better to see a uniformed security officer with a glock at his hip, or does it send them into a fit of “What if he doesn’t get the bad guy before the bad guy gets me?” Sometimes the presence of a security force is intended for good, but it focuses people on the extremely slim chance that something could go wrong. And if you’re in the business of preparing people to encounter with God, this could be a distraction of no small proportions.

Are you placing your trust in God? Of course we should take natural precautions as we were given a brain for the purpose of using it, but are you going too far. Is this an area where pacifism should take over, and we should trust in God for our safety rather than our own schemes for protection? Most people would probably disagree with this, but it’s a bit tough to stomach an image of Jesus walking around with a gun holster at his hip in case someone gets into attack-mode while he’s delivering his Sermon on the Mount. And he seemed less than happy with Peter for lopping off the ear of the man who came to kill him.

A few simple questions could go a long way in helping you decide just how to protect your own church members and guests.

Post By:

Joshua Cody

Josh Cody served as our associate editor for several years before moving on to bigger things. Like Texas. These days he lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife, and you can find him online or on Twitter when he's not wrestling code.
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5 Responses to “Making Churches Safe”

  • Kevin
    November 11, 2008

    Uh, maybe try this instead:
    The director of Safety and Security at our church wrote this book to address this very issue.

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  • Phil
    November 12, 2008

    A few years ago I was on holiday in the states. We were spending Sunday in Nashville and walked from the hotel to First Baptist church. We’d both brought packs as we were planning to be out for the day.
    When we arrived at church we were asked to put our packs in a side room and not take them into the sanctuary because we were “living in dangerous times”.
    For the rest of the day we went around the city, stopping in gift shops, music venues and museums; not once was my bag searched or taken from me.

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  • Tim Bulkeley
    November 12, 2008

    Looked at from outside the US of A, the presenting problem is a no brainer, lobby against the “right to bear arms”. Why on earth should your fellow citizens be allowed to wander around carrying lethal weapons. Decent gun licencing considerably reduces the risk. Belfast in the 1970s at the height of the ethnic troubles was a safer city than any in the USA.

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  • richard
    November 15, 2008

    i would love to see the stats backing up your comment.

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  • Tim Bulkeley
    November 15, 2008

    I cannot now find the stats for Belfast in the 70s, nor (on a quick look comparative figures for today) but the tendency may be shown in claims like this one (admittedly not from an unbiased source):

    ” * Every day, more than 80 Americans die from gun violence. (Coalition to Stop Gun Violence)

    * The rate of firearm deaths among kids under age 15 is almost 12 times higher in the United States than in 25 other industrialized countries combined. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

    * American kids are 16 times more likely to be murdered with a gun, 11 times more likely to commit suicide with a gun, and nine times more likely to die from a firearm accident than children in 25 other industrialized countries combined. (Centers for Disease Control)”


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