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People visit churches for comfort, safety, and a sense of belonging. Under no circumstances do they expect to feel unsafe or to have their security jeopardized when coming for a prayer or mass. That's why it is important that your security plan combines effectiveness in preventing and containing threats, without changing the experience for your members. Aside from the most violent acts of hate, churches can also store valuable items of cultural and religious heritage that could be attractive to thieves and burglars, which is an additional reason to have good security policies in place.
Many are open 24/7, providing all-day access hours. In addition, they welcome a large number of people at the same time—this can trigger crowd-related security issues; therefore, churches must plan, create and implement strict security policies and procedures, to secure churches as places of worship and community.
New church members must be introduced to security procedures as they join, so they don't endanger the security of other members. Churches with thousands of visitors employ a large security staff and install complex video surveillance systems to monitor the ministry. Some require the presence of law enforcement officers. Not all people respect sacred places and some don’t shy away from abusing the freedom and the open welcome, church administrations must pay due diligence to set security policies and procedures.
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Here are some of the most important aspects of church security that will affect policies and procedures:
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More religious institutions are facing the reality of security in today’s churches. A vulnerable place is an open invitation for an attack. Consequently, churches stop relying on people’s goodwill and start implementing contemporary access control solutions, considering security from a corporate perspective. Cloud access control is an advantageous solution for church security as it can tackle a number of security challenges churches face at once. By using the church’s private WiFi network, security staff can manage all access control aspects from one location. The church doesn’t need to hire too many security staff members.
Even if it’s a small church, one person can control all locks and alarms from a desktop computer or a smartphone. Cloud-based solutions consist of electronic components that use sensors to detect dangers and electromagnetic doors and locks to create barriers. There is no need for construction work or messing with centuries of cultural heritage to make the church safe.
The installation is neat and elegant, just as it suits a sacred peaceful place. The person in charge can create role-based authorizations for staff and assign each member a role that corresponds to a specific location and task. All data is collected and used for analytical purposes to find vulnerable points and improve church security.
When churches operate the security ministry haphazardly, it not only becomes a liability, but also a waste of time and resources that can distract from the overall mission of the church. Security requires proper direction and oversight from church leaders. The following structure ensures that your church security ministry is effective and efficient.
This board should play the leading role in the formation and oversight of the church security ministry. Along with an appointed security director and the pastor, the board should develop the procedures and policies that guide the operations of the security ministry. The governing board should meet at least once annually to carry out a risk assessment and review the church's security policy.
The governing board and the pastor should select a security director. Ideally, the director should be a church member that continues to demonstrate spiritual discernment and maturity. Even though military or law enforcement training would be preferable, it shouldn’t be a compulsory requirement for this role. The security director should oversee the security ministry’s overall operations, such as vetting and training volunteer security staff, purchasing security equipment, etc.
The security team should consist of church members who are physically capable, qualified to serve and willing to respond to the security needs of the church in the event of a critical incident or security crisis. While church security team members with law enforcement or military training would be ideal, formal security training shouldn’t be the sole criteria for selection.
After selecting a church security team, the security ministry should conduct an orientation that covers the vision, purpose, and protocols for the security ministry. Schedule regular meetings for developing proficiency with the action plans and procedures that the ministry establishes.
Security team members should be fluent in protocols for lock-downs and evacuation and response to disruptive members and medical emergencies. They should be familiar with service time protocols, pre-service checks, and their specific assignments and roles. Membership in the security team should be rotational, with team members being required to participate in worship and services.
Church security ministries should own most, if not all, of the essential security tools needed to keep the church safe. Examples include 2-way radios, traffic safety vests, flashlights, training materials, traffic control devices, and surveillance cameras. To further reduce vulnerability to attack, many leading churches today rely on the latest commercial access control systems.
Among these systems is cloud access control, a reliable security system that addresses the top security challenges that churches face. This system lets your church security team use the church WiFi network to remotely manage access to all the church’s access points from a central location. As a result, the security ministry has a leaner and more efficient security team.
Regardless of the size of the church, with cloud-based access control, an administrator can use a smartphone or computer to control all the locks and alarms. Cloud-based access control systems feature electronic components that use sensors and alarms to detect dangers and electric strike or magnetic locks to bar entry. Implementing a cloud-based system requires no construction, which is often expensive and disruptive.
The elegance of a cloud-based access control solution can be the perfect tool to maximize security without disrupting normal church proceedings. The security director can be in charge of the role-based authorizations, providing each security team member with a level of access that matches their role. The security system also gathers data and serves analytics that can give the oversight board with accurate insights for reviewing the church's security policy.