If you're a member of the clergy, you're responsible for the spiritual safety of your congregation. But, you're also responsible for their physical safety, as well. This is especially true during church services. Ensuring safety can be difficult, especially in today's climate. Church services can be a dangerous time for the members of your congregation, and for you. In fact, statistics show that hate crimes against churches increased more than 34-percent, between 2014 and 2018. Because of the rise in church-related hate crimes, it's important that you prepare for the safety of your congregation. Here are four steps you can take to improve the safety and security of your church services.
If you're working to improve safety in your church, and during your meetings, you need to start with the right training. Security training is now available for members of the clergy. This training is designed to prepare you for emergency situations involving acts of violence. Online church security video training also teaches you methods to keep your church building safe and secure when you're not on the premises. Best of all, you can get your congregation involved in the training. That way, your congregation will be prepared when an emergency situation erupts.
Know Your Members
When you're working to improve safety during church services, it's important that you get to know your congregation. There may be members of your congregation who have specialized training that you didn't know about. Some of that training may come in handy during a crisis situation. For instance, you may have members with medical, military, or law enforcement training. You can call on those members for extra help, should a crisis occur.
Establish a Chain of Command
Now that you're taking steps to increase safety for the members of your congregation, you'll need to establish a chain of command. The best way to do that is to create designated assignments for each member of the congregation. That way, each person knows what they're expected to do during a crisis situation. Having designated responsibilities, and a clear chain of command, will allow you to practice your crisis response as a congregation.
Invest in a Communication System
Finally, when you're establishing your safety plan, be sure to invest in a communication system. You may think that your cell phones will work for emergency communication. But, that might not be the case. The best way to make sure you can communicate with members of your response team is to have two-way radios on the premises. There should be one radio in each separate area of the church building during each service. Also, each key member of your emergency response team should have access to a radio. This is especially important if you have a separate nursery or childcare room for the children, and separate classroom areas.