5 Ways We Keep our Church Safe and Secure

5 Ways We Keep our Church Safe and Secure

Aaron Buer

Digital giving apps and tools

The news has been full of heartbreaking stories of violence and disaster over the last few months.

Like me, I’m sure you’ve had thoughts about the safety of your own church. Are we doing everything we can to protect the people who attend our churches?

Recently, I talked with the director of safety and security at our church and asked him to share his thoughts on how churches can become safer without spending a bazillion dollars on security issues.

I thought I’d share some of his ideas with you. Hopefully this post gives you some ideas on how to become a safer church.

1) Thorough Background Checks

Here’s the honest truth: The vast majority of security threats that churches face come from within the church itself.

Who you allow to serve, particularly with children and students is critically important.

If you don’t background check your volunteers and staff, this is a very important first step toward becoming a safer church. Yes, these background checks cost money but we can’t afford to not take this step.

It’s also important to utilize multiple background checks. The typical background check websites aren’t always kept up to date as they should be. Because of this, we use two or three different sites. In addition, we background check people by Facebook creeping them.

No really.

If you apply to serve in our ministry, I will be all up in your social media business. I’m not weird. I’m just very interested in protecting our kids and students. I think you should do the same.

In addition, I think it is important to actually interview every person who volunteers at your church and actually contact their references. It isn’t a bad idea to bring two people to these interviews so that you can discuss your perceptions as well.

One last point here: Don’t be afraid to say no to someone who sets off your weird radar (also known as a weird-dar... that’s a technical term). We have been known to say “no thanks” to prospective volunteers, particularly in the areas of students and children simply because we didn’t have a good feeling about them.

Something was a little creepy. In cases like this, we might find another area of our church for this person to serve, or we just say, “We don’t think this is a good fit” and say no.

2) Utilize Visual Deterrents

Another simple step churches can take to increase safety is to put baseline deterrents in place.

Here’s an example:

When our student ministry meets, our building is locked. The doors open for twenty minutes or so when our students show up and then they lock until the time our program ends.

We place a sign on the door with a phone number for late-comers or parents to call if someone is locked out. We also have an approved adult volunteer watch the door during our program.

This step provides a baseline level of security for our students. During our program, it isn’t possible for someone to just walk in off the street. Sure, this isn’t a foolproof security measure but a baseline is better than no line.

If this isn’t something that you do, it is an easy step that literally costs nothing.

If you want to do a little more to utilize visual deterrents, install a closed circuit security camera system.

This serves two purposes.

First, it make any would-be intruder second-guess their decision. Secondly, it’s a great resource for when that small group of sixth grade boys mildly vandalizes the church building.

“I swear we didn’t do it”
“Interesting, because this video footage looks remarkably like you…”


3) Secure Spaces for Children

Something that we’ve become very intentional about is creating safe spaces for our children.

The idea is to ensure that no one, who is not a vetted volunteer or a parent, can enter our children’s spaces during our weekend services without an escort.

The way we do this is through a centralized check-in station that all children must pass through. There is only one way in and out of our children’s ministry areas.

Many churches also use wrist bands or printed name tags that pair children with their parents to ensure that only authorized parents are removing kids from the children’s ministry area. I would argue that this is essential. (If interested, Breeze offers printed name tags as part of check in).

Again, these are relatively easy steps to take that dramatically increase the safety of your church.

If centralized drop-off and pick-up are not something that you currently do, I would encourage you to take these steps. If you have multiple entrance and exits to your children’s area, simply start locking those doors and use only one. And if you’re having trouble visualizing what this system would look like, consider visiting a church in your area that employs these strategies.

4) Utilize Law Enforcement Resources

I bet you have a law enforcement agency in your town. Funny thing. These people love safety and security!

It’s their entire world and they are really good at it.

Take advantage of these people, especially if they attend your church. Ask them to evaluate the safety and security of your church. I bet they would have helpful suggestions on how to become a safer environment.

If you have a retired law enforcement officer in your church, ask that person to consider serving as a safety and security advisor in your church.

5) Train Staff and Volunteers

Lastly, train your people for emergency situations.

Unfortunately, we live in an era where it is very important that our staff and volunteers known how to respond to an emergency situation, whether it is weather related, medical, or even violence.

Have a plan and make sure that key people know how to implement the plan.

In order to make this happen, I would suggest that someone needs to oversee safety and security at your church. There should be a point person whose job it is to raise the level of safety. It could be a paid staff or a key volunteer but someone should own this responsibility. Unless there is a point person, it’s often difficult to create movement.

Wrap Up

I’d much rather write about something more fun or entertaining, like starting a ministry for puppies at your church but alas, we live in a fallen world and safety and security is something we need to address in our churches. Hopefully this post gave you some ideas or action steps for making your church a safer place for your people.

If you have questions, thoughts or ideas you’d like to share, we’d love to hear. Just leave them in the comments below.

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