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3 Ways to be Safe at Church!

The church, if we are doing it in a way Jesus directed us, places us directly between a rock and a hard place in today’s, violent society. One thing we should always be is a safe haven where people who are struggling with life, society, or even other people can find hope and the courage, with Jesus at their side, to seek healing. Being open to the public obviously opens us up to people that may have already given up on hope or have succumbed to the darkness in our world.
How then can the church continue to be welcoming and hospitable to an inhospitable world? We can’t just pray it won’t happen here, because we need to be a safe place for families and children too! What can we do short of armed guards and metal detectors to continue to be a safe sanctuary for everyone.
Here are three ideas to help us manage this tension:
1) Greeter teams are your “eyes in the skies!” An important part of a welcoming strategy for any church is to position greeters and hosts at every entrance to your facility, and better yet some in the parking lot too. These folks help make your guests feel welcome, answer questions, and can direct them to the ministry areas they are seeking, like the nursery and children’s areas. But from a security perspective, your door greeters provide two distinct safety measures. First, they are a deterrent to many threats because a person with ill-intentions is usually looking for a way to slip into a facility undetected. So, the second safety measure is that these greeters are observing what is happening around them and should notify the proper persons if they see something out of the ordinary, unusual, or potentially dangerous. This is not to say that your greeters can’t engage with visitors, but it is important that they not be distracted in conversations with friends and family that can occur later.
2) Make a plan, share the plan, work the plan. We need to be prepared for emergency situations of all types, from medical to weather to active shooter. Work with various local law enforcement agencies, hospitals, and other government departments to create a plan for all contingencies. Then, regularly train your staff and volunteers so that when a problem arises, your people will know how to respond, who to contact, and where to go. Signage, emergency lighting, evacuation maps, and procedures for emergency situations are all tools that you need to make available in your facility for staff and volunteers to access if a situation arises.
3) Talk about it, pray about it, and do something about it! It is also important to talk about it in worship, so that your guests and visitors are assured that their safety is very important and understand how they are to respond in the event of an emergency. We need to avoid alarming language, but we do need to share critical information like where is the safe shelter in the building in the event of a weather phenomenon. I think it is also important that we pray about these issues, that we ask God for courage as we reach out into a dangerous world, gives us strength to be a beacon of help to a hurting world, and that maybe we can help change someone’s eternity by sharing hope with a society that loses hope daily! And the church can be an agent for change in their community by leaving the warmth and security of the church building and partnering with others in your area committed to making change and impacting lives.
Jesus was also venturing into arenas where his safety and the safety of his disciples were in jeopardy. Are we willing to follow his lead, realizing it won’t always be rainbows and roses? What are you doing to create a safe, yet open environment in your church (share your ideas and best practices below!)

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