Places of worship should be just that—places where people can practice their religion safely. However, with the high number of United States church shootings in 2017, many church officials now face an intimidating task for 2018: improving their ministry security and preparing for disaster.

The possibility of your church being attacked is not easy to come to terms with, but facing this reality is the only way to keep your congregation safe. At Captiva, our emergency preparedness team is made of former first responders and military members who understand the importance of keeping places of worship safe. Here are our tips for improving your ministry’s security:

  1. Make a Plan

There is no way to see the future, but you need to ensure that your church has a plan in place for any emergency. Identify staff and volunteers who can help in emergencies, and work with them to create one plan for each kind of emergency, such as an active shooter, life-threatening medical emergency, intruder, and more. In this plan, you should identify key church staff members and volunteers, and their responsibilities, create an escape route for your congregation, and identify how your team will communicate during an emergency. Develop Standard Operating Procedures for things you do often so that everyone does them the same way. Pro Tip: Start with template SOPs to get there quicker and learn from others. Have your staff run drills and practice your plan to ensure you can carry it out properly and quickly.

  1. Install Secure Locks & Security Cameras

Although churches are meant to be open places where anyone can go to worship, strong locks can help protect against attacks, especially when the church is not in use. Install keypad locks on your exterior doors and only give the code to necessary staff for added security. It can be challenging to monitor everyone who goes in and out of church on a daily basis, but installing security cameras will allow you to capture all activity on tape to review if needed.

  1. Train Key Staff Members and Volunteers

An excellent way to ensure your congregation stays safe is to train your staff! As part of your emergency preparedness plan, identify which staff members will be crucial for keeping the church safe during an emergency. Give each person specific responsibilities, and provide them training for how to carry out those responsibilities. Dedicate some staff who will help evacuate the church during an emergency, others who will protect doors, and others who will sit in the crowd and scan for suspicious people or activity.

  1. Educate Your Congregation

Even though nobody wants to picture themselves being in danger, pretending a church emergency will never happen is not the way to be prepared. Address the topic with your congregation, communicate your plan, and remind them to be aware of their surroundings. Teach them the “see something, say something” policy, and encourage them to tell a church official if they notice someone acting strange or suspicious.

  1. Prepare Your Church with Captiva

While attacks on churches, temples, and places of worship are still rare, it has become increasingly crucial that church officials know what to do in an emergency. The right training and guidance can ensure that any church is well-prepared for any disaster. Captiva offers ministry security resources and training designed to help church officials be better prepared. Our staff are highly trained emergency response professionals who can give you the guidance you need to keep your place of worship safe.

Contact us online to request a consultation or to download our free ministry safety eBook!