5 Tips for Improving Church Security
It doesn’t matter where your church is located. Anyone who has worked in ministry for more than a few years has a story or two about a security issue – someone trying to break in, equipment being stolen, etc.
Regardless of your budget, there are things you can do to improve your church’s security moving forward – all of which are worthwhile to consider.
5 Tips for Improving Church Security
When we think of building security measures, I think a lot of our minds jump to extremes such as active shooters or burglaries, but there are several reasons to implement security practices in your church that range from common to rare, and mild to extreme.
On one hand, sure, there’s always the off chance that someone could break in and cause a legitimate threat to the safety of staff and/or attenders. But on the other hand, you have much more common security threats such as bad weather, building fires, and sprinkler issues or flooding. Security practices should play a role in identifying and protecting against all these things. And it doesn’t take a 6-figure budget to implement practical and effective measures into place.
Well, that kind of sounds like a “no duh” recommendation. But it’s actually surprising how many churches don’t have an active security system, or never learn how to use their existing security system or train anyone in on how to set it and disable it.
You don’t need to get fancy. Get an easy security system with some cheap window and door sensors and get your staff caught up on how to use it. Likely, it will take you a few hours to get set up and not much more to train staff on how to use it.
The most common form of “security” that most of us probably think about is video surveillance, and for good reason! Having video surveillance on the most vulnerable or common points of entry and movement in and out of your building is important.
If gear is stolen or someone tries to break in, having a camera outside can help to identify who it was, when it happened, catch a license plate, and give you information necessary to inform authorities. Also, simply the site of cameras around a building is often enough to deter burglars from attempting a break in.
Create Locked Door Policies
I have a few friends who work in ministry that have some scary stories of finding non-authorized people in the building when they were alone. In small churches, sometimes the building is very lightly staffed during the week, and being in a church office alone (or with few people) can be scary if you aren’t assured that the doors are secure.
Create a locked door policy of some sort to mitigate the risk of a break-in or dangerous person entering the building. If you’re in a small church with a limited budget, maybe lock all doors except one near the office for staff to get in and out, and place your video camera at that door. You could even lock all doors and place a video doorbell at the main door for use during office hours.
These are just small and effective steps you can take to drastically increase the security of your building for all staff members.
Make Exits Known
This is basic fire code, but you need lit exit signs above all exit doors. I would recommend going a step further and creating a protocol in the event of an active shooter, building fire, or other catastrophe where people need to evacuate the building.
Label directions to the nearest exit from every place in the building. Train staff and volunteers (especially ushers) on where to direct crowds in the event of a needed evacuation. You want the ability to act quickly, safely, efficiently, and most importantly, calmly.
Revisit the protocols frequently so staff and volunteers always feel prepared in the event of a needed evacuation. Which leads to the next point…
Assign Emergency Roles
Truthfully, everyone on staff or in a volunteer role should know where exits are and what the procedure is for a building evacuation or lockdown. But it’s really important to create a chain of escalation and authority should an issue arise.
Will you have ushers help to direct people to the appropriate location? Should the pastor notify everyone immediately from stage? Think through a scenario and figure out the most efficient action plan, and assign emergency roles to volunteer and staff positions. Of course, make sure that anyone who is in these roles is frequently briefed on security measures, plans, and procedures in the event of a security threat.
Fix Issues Immediately
Break-ins often happen as a result of faulty windows and doors. It’s important that you immediately fix anything related to building security if it is broken.
If your smoke alarm batteries are due, replace them. If the video surveillance camera went down, fix it or buy another. If a window lock is faulty, replace it. If a door handle is loose or a lock is acting up, change it.
They’re not fun tasks. It’s a lot of miscellaneous money to put into things that seemingly don’t make a difference, and it takes time out of your schedule. I understand the convenience. But in the bigger picture, you’re investing in increased security and peace of mind for both you and your staff.
It’s incredible just how much cheaper it is to replace a door lock than a stolen soundboard…
About the Author
Chris Fleming is a professional musician from Minneapolis, MN who has played with artists such as TAYA, Big Daddy Weave, and Jason Gray. He is actively involved with the worship music scene and has contributed as a drummer, music director, song writer, and producer for various worship artists and churches locally and nationally. Chris is the Motion Designer at Motion Worship, helping to create motion background collections and countdowns for our subscribers.