I recently read an article stating that as many as 60% of Americans plan to attend a Christmas church service this year. While the article did not indicate the specific service; Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Midnight Mass, musical or other, one thing is certain, churches will be busy this holiday season!
As we, the local church, continue to open our doors and invite everyone to “come as you are”, we mustn’t be naive to any ill-willed amongst the many guests wandering through church campuses. Today I want to share three ways to prepare your church for a safe holiday. Whether you have a large campus made up of many buildings, or rent a storefront, you can keep your house of worship from becoming a soft-target. No matter if you have a full-time security team, or if your team is comprised of volunteers, you can work together to keep your house of worship a safe house. As you read the following ways to prepare your church for a safe holiday, keep in mind that every church, regardless of size or budget, has the ability to be a safe house.
3 Tips for a Safe Holiday Season:
- Detailed campus sweeps. Sanctuary should be done before every service. That means if your church has multiple services, then yes, you need to have members of your security team assigned to sweep the sanctuary between services. You are looking for anything out of place. Look on and under every pew or chair, in every trashcan (be sure to check between the liner and the can) and throughout the high traffic areas.
- Teamwork is impossible without excellent communication. It’s so important that every team member knows that nothing is too small to not communicate with the rest of the team. Awareness is essential, and details are a must. Communication of anything you see or hear that looks out of place or feels off must be communicated with the team. Use this list of 7 Behaviors That Need Your Attention
- The holiday season means increased security. All volunteers should work every service. This means making schedules ahead of time, as much of your team is likely to be traveling during the holidays and not available to serve. Always post assignments to include some team members assigned to roam, while others are posted in children’s area, sanctuary, foyer/entry, and all other areas accessible to guests. Team should always be posted before guests arrive, ideally 30 minutes before service begins. Larger churches should consider partnering with local law enforcement during high traffic services. Keep in mind that these team members do not include any personal security for your pastor as that should be separate from your team. If you have a mix of paid security and volunteers, always have your staff, who should have the most in-depth training, in the sanctuary where the largest crowd is.