Because the places where we worship are peaceful, sacred spaces, we are prone to feel safe and secure in practicing our faith. It is easy to forget that these places and our activities with our fellow congregants are subject to the same issues as any other place or community. This makes it easy to overlook some common concerns.
If you are putting together a ministry safety plan or looking to improve your current one, make sure you pay attention to all possible details and scenarios. To help you create an in-depth, secure plan, here are a few questions you must consider that are commonly overlooked by churches:
- Does your plan cover all times of day?
Your security processes and emergency preparedness plan must protect your house of worship all day long. This must include in the morning, during the day, and at night, whether or not your house of worship is in use. Make sure you have detailed daily opening and closing procedures to ensure church safety at these two crucial times of day. You should also have a plan and process for conducting checks while the church is in use to identify and stop any security issues or suspicious activity. Finally, you should also ideally have security monitoring your church at night or during other times when it is not being used.
- Have you planned for church-sponsored events that are held off site?
Your house of worship safety plan does not only apply to your church building but to any community events you host or attend. Protecting your congregation off-site can prove to be a challenge, especially in an unfamiliar location. As a church leader, it is your duty to familiarize yourself with the location of the event and ensure all security measures are in place. Your plan should include walkthrough processes before the event, during which a staff member identifies all exits and communicates with venue management to understand fire codes and other regulations. Your plan should also include a during-event walkthrough to ensure your attendees remain safe throughout.
- Are all areas of your house of worship covered?
You should have a security plan for your ministry’s interior and exterior. For your interior, your walkthroughs and checks should include every single room such as the main sanctuary and any classrooms, restrooms, offices, and other interior areas to ensure all of these areas are secure and free of threats. Your offices especially should be secure to ensure any files, data, financial information, and other sensitive materials are not compromised. Establishing a clear interior safety plan will ensure you secure any and all data in your back offices. You should also have thorough security processes and plans for your church’s exterior. Use security cameras to film all activity surrounding your house of worship. Every night, ensure all exterior doors are locked and have security staff perform a walkthrough. Equip exterior doors with an alarm for added protection.
- Who will communicate to media and the public when an issue occurs?
You should designate a person who will be responsible for communicating with the media and public when emergencies or incidents do occur. For a large enough or significant enough incident, there will be media coverage. Depending on the situation, there may be a need to update the media and community to provide updates about the congregation’s well-being during the incident or during recovery. Someone should be designated as the communications point-of-contact, with responsibility for working with media, fielding phone calls, and updating the web and social media.
Improve Your Ministry Safety Plan With Captiva
With a team of former military members and first responders, Captiva offers effective ministry safety services to help you establish a thorough ministry safety plan. We are skilled at creating detail-oriented opening, closing, and walk-through procedures for houses of worship to help improve safety and emergency preparedness. We also offer video training that explore various violence or emergency scenarios to further help church officials prepare.
Contact us today to learn more!