Places of worship

10 Ways to Improve Church Security 

Violence at places of worship is increasing. Be proactive, enhance the security of your church, protect the members, and prevent violent incidents.

7 min reading time

Church

Updated on January 05, 2023

Written by Bernhard Mehl

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Churches, like other houses of worship, as spaces of shelter, peace, and reflection, strive to be accessible and welcoming. Still, many unfortunate events remind us violence is all around, so many faith leaders have taken steps to enhance their church’s security.

Why do we need church security?

Violence at places of worship in the U.S. is increasing. The most tragic and shocking incidents make the news and shock the public, yet many smaller incidents occur at churches weekly.

Around 480 incidents of serious violence are estimated at places of worship in the U.S. each year. Annually this translates to 46 deaths and 218 serious injuries.

From mental health disorders and family disputes to hate crimes and robberies, the motives for violence vary. Yet, 67% of the assailants had no affiliation with the congregation.

Religious leaders can enhance the security of their church, protect the church members, and prevent violent incidents with an access control solution that grants different access levels to members. Given most bad actors are not church members, implementing a modern access control system like Kisi is a necessary first step toward a safer church community.

10 tips to improve the security of your church

Be proactive and put the safety of your church and congregation first. Take action and follow these security tips to ensure your place of worship is safe for everyone.

1. Assign Roles

In any emergency situation, chaos will erupt. Avoid that chaos by determining beforehand who will do what.

Assign somebody to call 911, someone to talk to authorities, and someone to calm down and direct any nearby churchgoers. It’s also beneficial to identify who could be helpful in emergency scenarios.

Find the doctors, former or current law enforcement, and those with military or security backgrounds. Those people could be the ones saving a life.

If you have a modern access control system like Kisi, designate the admin responsible for putting the church in lockdown if necessary.

2. Create Door Policies

Have a church member lock the side doors once service begins. Someone should monitor all unlocked doors to prevent unwelcome guests from walking in.

Give the door volunteers two-way radios. If information needs to travel quickly around the church, radios will help make that happen.

Consider changing the locking system to mobile-based access where only people with the proper credentials can enter once a service begins. An access control system can keep your church welcoming for all but also secure.

3. Make Exits Known

Many people consider their church to be a safe and comforting place and might not think to look around to find the nearest exits.

Pointing out exits at the beginning of a large service during a major holiday or gathering is a smart church security procedure.

4. Talk About Safety

Scheduling meetings to discuss security measures allows people to voice their own opinions and concerns. Somebody might notice something that should be church safety 101, yet no clear plan or policy exists. Use this discussion time to decide what areas of your church security policy need improvement.

One way to identify trouble spots is to have someone point them out. Police officers, security experts, ambulance members, or fire marshals can help you understand the possible risks in your church. They can also offer ideas to solve the issues they see in order to create the safest church environment possible.

Access control is a great place to start your safety talks. If you don’t have access to someone that can advise you on the best door policy protocols or how an access control system should look like for your church, contact us.

5. Train Your Leaders

In emergency situations, backup never hurts. Take time to train all leaders of the church, no matter how small someone’s role may be, so they can effectively respond to bad situations.

In times of stress or worry, people look to those who they have been looking to before—their leaders.

User-friendly access control systems like Kisi will reduce training needs and stress and empower your leaders to better manage your spaces and security.

6. Install Video Surveillance

Even if you don’t think you’ll ever look back on it, it’s good to have security footage. A security camera system can deter thieves and vandals from your church.

Bad actors are less likely to commit a crime against your church if they think they’ll get caught. If a crime still happens, security cameras can provide the needed evidence to resolve the incident.

Video cameras should be placed both inside and outside your church.

Unfortunately, internal thieves are not rare in churches. Place interior cameras in the essential areas of your facilities to provide solid overall coverage. Aim for cameras at all entrances and exits, longer hallways, offices, the parish hall, event hall, chapel, gymnasiums, youth ministry facilities, daycare, and other amenities.

Place exterior cameras at the exterior entries and the parking lot. Dome cameras are usually the go-to option since they are more resistant to uncertain weather conditions and potential vandalism.

Integrate your access control system with your cameras so you can view snapshots of unlock events or become alerted if the door is held open.

7. Test Security Systems

Security assessments and tests can provide insight into issues with your church’s security system infrastructure and operations that will otherwise likely go unnoticed.

It is even easier to get used to the status quo and disregard the security system during busy schedules. An annual check-up on these systems should be sufficient.

Run regular security assessments to identify and repair gaps and vulnerabilities before they trigger bigger problems. Whether it’s an alarm you install or emergency lights in the case of a power outage, test it.

8. Don’t Put-off Necessary Upkeep

Taking care of problems as promptly and professionally as possible should deter criminals, for example you can make sure to repair or replace areas that are not functioning properly - like an old or broken window.

If the upkeep of the church is consistent, there’s an assumption that everything about the church—inside and out—is organized, deliberate, and prepared for any situation.

9. Lock Down

Establish lock-down procedures to lock all entrances to prevent anyone from entering or exiting the building without permission or authorization. The goal is to isolate and protect your church’s members during a dangerous situation.

The ability to lock down your church can help prevent intruders from getting in. If the bad actor does get inside, you can lock down specific doors to prevent them from inflicting greater harm.

The threat isn’t necessarily an active shooter. It could also be an accidental incident, like someone running from the police, a loose, dangerous animal, or a nearby hazardous material spill.

Comprehensive access control systems like Kisi have a lock-down feature for emergency situations. Kisi enables admins to trigger and halt lock-downs remotely from their mobile devices to react aptly and timely. Integrate it with your alarm and sensors to get an instant notification on your mobile phone in case of incidents.

10. Be Prepared

As long as you have a plan and have done everything you can, your church will be as safe as possible. Acting with intent pays off in the long run.

If you’d like to get in touch with a security expert to discuss your access control needs, submit your information here and we’ll be in touch.

Bernhard Mehl

Bernhard is the co-founder and CEO of Kisi. His philosophy, "security is awesome," is contagious among tech-enabled companies.

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