My husband was approached by our pastor about 4 or 5 years ago to start up a security team for our church. My husband is ex-military and due to various career experience, he is well suited for this role. I was surprised but glad that our pastor thought of a security team. In today’s world. there is no guarantee of safety anywhere. The security team was loosely assembled and consisted of all men. Discussions were held about areas of coverage and although I am not a security team member, I gave my husband my opinions and suggestions. He really had no options about hearing my input anyway! An out-of-state friend of mine knew someone who headed up church security and my husband was able to make contact with this gentleman and get some ideas also. I was concerned at first that people would be put off by the idea of security at a church but a week after our pastor introduced my husband’s new role to the congregation, a church shooting took place in another part of the country, and it made national news.
We are often thanked and prayed for by many people. Mothers tend to appreciate security in the Sunday school/nursery area. We have had new congregants show up and ask about safety and many mother’s ask what the security policy is and want to know if the Sunday school/nursery area is an area secured from strangers.
Our pastor and a couple of the men attended a church security conference that was being held mostly for law enforcement officers but quite a few men from area churches attended. My husband came back from the conference full of very useful information. He also learned that women should be included in security and I was now an official security team member! My also husband thinks women are much better at detecting undercurrents or tension. See, those girly feelings we get can be put to good use.
The church which we attend is located in an old school in a rural area. The church rents several of the classrooms and the service itself is held in the gym. Two classrooms make up Sunday school and the third classroom is the nursery.
Our preparation for Sunday’s service security begins before we leave home. The radios/walkie-talkies are checked for fresh batteries. We pack up our Bibles and gear up. Gearing up for me is a belt with gel mace and a pouch with two speed loaders. A knife in one front pocket and my .38 revolver in my other pocket. I wear a loose shirt to cover all of the gear. I tend to wear loose clothing at this age anyway and I have found that cargo pants are wonderful with many pockets to hold “stuff”. It took a while to get used to carrying all the gear on my waist and bending down was a challenge (actually getting up was the challenge)! After a while, I got used to moving around and now it is routine. I really feel for law enforcement officers I see with the tons of gear they are required to carry on their persons. We pray for God’s protection on our church and everyone there before we leave our house.
As we approach our church, we look around the surrounding area for anything that we consider out of the ordinary. My husband and I also check all of the exterior doors of the whole building to make sure they are locked and secured. We have found several businesses whose doors were not locked. My husband checked to make sure the offices were not vandalized and no one was hiding inside. He then locks the door on the way out. The business owners have told him to just lock the door if he finds it open rather than wake them up on a Sunday morning to come out and secure their offices. As we are driving around the exterior of the building, I make a mental note of the cars parked in the back of the building not affiliated with our church.
Once we enter the building, we check all interior doors that we do not use to make sure they are also locked. We distribute the radios and perform radio checks. My position is the “greeter.” I stand in an area and greet everyone with a smile and a “Good morning”. If we have other security members available, one of them will greet congregants with me. I am also visually checking for any unusual bulges on a person or large backpacks. I also check to see if someone seems angry or distant. I know most everyone who attends but we always get new folks and some of them I do not know. If someone seems “off”, the other security members are made aware of that individual and they are monitored. If I see someone I do know who seems burdened or upset, I can alert an elder or their wife to check on the individual.
My husband and certain security staff are always in the parking lot. I am not rotated into this position as they are the first line of defense and feel I am better suited inside. I do not have an issue with this. I am sometimes asked to cover the parking lot for a few minutes if someone needs to go to the bathroom or get a cup of coffee.
I am usually the security person for the sanctuary area when the service starts. I stand between the double doors and have a good visual of two outside doors and the congregation. If the outside doors are open in warmer weather, each door has its own set of eyes watching it. I direct newcomers to the restrooms or Sunday school and nursery area. I can also keep any eye on the restrooms and hear if anything is occuring. I have also fetched water for woozy, overheated people and found a nurse who also attends to help assess a gentleman with chest pain. I have also had people who were having a personal crisis sit near me at the back of the church. If I need immediate help, I can grab any number of people around me to assist.
Only on one occasion did we have a new visitor who was behaving rather oddly in the parking lot. One other security member stayed with me in the sanctuary and we kept a close eye on the gentleman. He did not cause any issues and we never saw him again. We did, on two separate occasions, have dogs enter the open doors. On one occasion, we were having a Resurrection Sunday breakfast and Fido scarffed a few sausages before he was escorted (chased) out. Fortunately, both dogs were friendly. We are a welcoming church to all God’s creatures, great and small!
I am sometimes positioned in the hallway, outside our Sunday school and nursery classrooms. I escort children to the restrooms and sometimes have to get a parent out of the service to calm a screaming child. The little children make faces at me through the windows and I laugh at them. They seem to view me with amusement. If weather permits and the Sunday school children go out to the playground, I go outside with them and stand guard. As this is a public area, there may be parents with children there also. We also have people walking dogs or meeting other people in the parking lot as it is a common area, and those folks require a set of eyes also. An occasional baseball or soccer game may be going on in the fields right across from our doors. It can be a very busy place and requires me to keep an eye on multiple areas. I have also rendered basic first aid for cuts, bruises, and skinned knees. Only parents are allowed in the hall area near our Sunday school and nursery. No one else may go back there, under any circumstances.
I also rotate to a position right inside the front doors, in a hallway. This gives me a view of hallway leading to the classrooms and the short hall leading to the sanctuary. The parking lot security man radios me when latecomers are entering and how many to expect. I can also make sure no one attempts to wander down the hall toward the classrooms.
In addition to the Sunday service, security is provided for Thursday evening service and occasionally other events taking place. On two separate occasions, we had services combined at another church. The hosting church was very happy to have us provide security and asked my husband to look at their areas and give suggestions for safety and security.
I am humbled to be a part of our church security team and serve the Lord in this capacity. The role I have is very serious, I am responsible for many people’s lives. The adults trust that their children will be safe in our church. The men I serve with I trust with my life and they are like brothers to me. We pray that we never have to use any weapons against another person, whether it be mace or a firearm but we will absolutely lay down our lives to keep everyone safe. We have two “mottos” which describe our mission, and our attitude: Firstly, no one touches the children. Ever. Secondly, it is a privilege to die in the House of God in defense of His Flock.
If your church or house of worship lacks security at present, please prayerfully consider changing that status. Pastors, please be involved, and please consider either providing insurance for legal coverage, or directing them to an insurer from whom they can purchase. We ask this for those who are willing to lay down their lives for you.
Please engage actively in training, as it will pay off if ever the security team needs to stand for your defense.
Like fighter pilots say, “watch your six.” We add “stand.” God bless you, and be safe!