Church security preparedness is not only important for the preservation of those who are members of the church but it is important for the preservation of the religion itself…


Church security preparedness is sadly a popular topic amongst many religious organizations in these modern times. The recent church-related shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina on June 17, 2015 has placed the Christian communities in shock but has also significantly shown a need for better church security preparedness techniques to be used in the future so that events like Charleston can be prevented from happening again in the future. While there are some good arguments on both sides of the “firearms access” debate, the debate is nonetheless a two-sided conflict with heavily influenced political agendas. Debating “firearm access” is not going to help solve church security preparedness problems right now. In this article, we will focus on solving church security preparedness problems for rural communities now rather than wait years after years for political conflicts to change the laws.



Church Security Preparedness: Security Personnel

Often in a rural community, church leaders are commonly faced with the same challenges in preparedness that the local community government is faced with – lack of finances for needed resources and staffing positions. One way to potentially cope with church security preparedness is to hire security personnel for church sessions. If your religious organization cannot afford security personnel, look to your congregation and determine if any of them are qualified to complete this task while aligning to legal requirements that you should also seek advice for. Some congregation members might have a state security license or some of your members could even be sworn law enforcement officers. Security personnel should include visible and covert agents. Visible security agents dawning a uniform of some kind or a badge can help deter criminal action while covert or “undercover” security agents can continue asset protection through unseen means for added church security preparedness. Church security professionals can also help out with many other tasks including parking and emergency response and many members will volunteer to perform this task for their religious organizations.


Church Security Preparedness: Closed Circuit Television (CCTV)

Many common retail and electronic shopping centers sell basic closed circuit television (CCTV) systems that you can acquire for a low cost to provide camera security tactics for church security preparedness activities. Visible cameras alone are often large reasons why criminal activities are prevented. Cameras risk a chance for criminal to get caught doing illegal activities. Using security cameras for church security preparedness techniques could prevent a disaster that is waiting to happen. For the best results, place security cameras on doors leading in and out of the church facility and on the doors or doorway leading into the congregation room and/or hall. Cameras should be placed as high as possible to prevent damage from being done to them in an attempt to hide criminal activities. Fake realistic or “dummy cameras” should not be used for church security preparedness as they are often easy to spot as fake devices by career criminals and others.


Church Security Preparedness: Plan, Exercise and Evaluate

Rural communities and organizations within them are best at emergency management and continuity or services when they plan for the worst, train for the worst and evaluate how they can better emergency management for their communities. As a religious leader, you should be doing the same. Create a church security preparedness planning committee for your religious organization consisting of you, church administrators, local emergency management and first responders, city leaders and members of the church. Then plan for the church security preparedness efforts. After planning is completed, gain experience with the plan by conducting training exercises utilizing what has been planned. Invite local fire, ems, law enforcement and emergency management to participate in the training exercises as it will be beneficial to local emergency preparedness as well. Planning and exercising allows you to gain experience and knowledge about church security preparedness without actually having to witness an actual incident. After planning and exercising your church security preparedness plan – evaluation should completed to see where the plan and system can be improved as no plan is ever finished in the end.


Church Security Preparedness: A Resilient Congregation

As a final tip, developing a resilient church leadership and congregation is a very important step of successfully implementing church security preparedness at your religious organization. Inform your church administrators, members and guests that terrible things can happen in churches and that it is important to be ready for it so that loss can be prevented. Hiding this kind of information is not a way of protecting others, it is dishonest and goes against most codes of most religious organizations. Hiding the impossible from being impossible is not effective church security preparedness protocol – honesty and explaining what protection measures have been put in place is the only true road to resiliency and successful church security preparedness.


What sort of Church Security Preparedness does your church have?

When it comes to church security preparedness techniques, what sort of tactics have you taken for your religious organization and facility? Please comment below with your thoughts, ideas, opinions and questions about church security preparedness tactics.


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This article was written by Shawn J. Gossman, BS, MS, SEM. Shawn is a developing expert in rural emergency management and rural business continuity. Shawn holds a bachelor and master degree concentrating in emergency management and public health. Shawn is a professionally certified Specialist in Emergency Management (SEM). Shawn serves as the Assistant Fire Chief for the rural Village of Bush, Illinois.

About the Author

Shawn J. Gossman
Shawn J. GossmanB.S., M.S., M.B.A., SEM, PDS
Shawn J. Gossman is an article and publication contributor of rural and remote-based emergency management, continuity and public health topics. Shawn holds a Master of Science concentrating in Emergency Management and a MBA in Hazardous Environment Logistics and Supply Chain Management. Shawn is dedicated to helping rural communities and organizations be a part of the Whole Community approach of National Preparedness.