• June 13, 2022 1:33 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The recent shooting at at Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods, CA was an absolute tragedy. When we look at active attacker incidents in houses of worship we need to examine the behaviors of the attacker, as one of the many pieces of the puzzle of prevention and preparation. There are two facets to this attack that are important reminders for those of us serving in church safety and security ministries. One of these is our anticipation of when an attack will occur. The other is the attack timing chosen by the attacker. Please don’t forget we never blame the victims of these evil individuals, but we should desire to learn from their losses and work to prevent and prepare for future events. 

    Often times when people think of security for their houses of worship they focus on their primary worship service times. Many churches’ will focus on Sunday morning and Synagogues on Saturday morning. While we certainly need to protect these services, they are not the only times we observe attacks taking place. When we analyze the data we see attacks take place during other days of the week and at special events and Bible studies. 

    The recent attack at Geneva Presbyterian Church took place during a luncheon to celebrate one of the pastors. The attacker did not enter the luncheon and immediately start shooting as we often think active shooters will. Rather he executed his plan of securing some of the doors to prevent the escape by his victims and staged backpacks containing his extra equipment in the banquet hall. He then mingled with those attending the luncheon for approximately twenty minutes before engaging in his attack.

    The attacker at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC chose to attack a Wednesday night prayer gathering. He joined the prayer meeting and participated in it for about an hour before commencing with his attack. 

    Often times when we think of active shooter events our minds go to a sudden, rapid assault. Although many attacks do take place in this way, we must recognize the timing of an attack is controlled by the attacker. Both the Geneva and Emanuel attackers lied in wait in plain sight interacting with their victims prior to the attack. Yes, there were pre attack indicators, but they were dismissed by those in attendance, prior to the assaults, as often occurs. The attackers also determined the times of their attacks and chose not to attack during the usual worship services for the churches. 

    What can we learn from these attacks?

    • Attacks may occur anytime people are on the church’s property. The FBI Identified 15 active shooter events at Houses of Worship from 2000-2019. One-third of those attacks took place when organizations were not holding their primary worship services.
    • We all want visitors to attend our ministry services and events, but we need to be aware of new, unfamiliar visitors and ministry team members need to monitor their body language and actions. 
    • We have to stay vigilante, we can’t let our guard down because someone is participating or communicating with others at the event. 

  • April 17, 2022 10:50 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The scriptures include many individuals and people groups we are familiar with as followers of Christ. One of the many groups that may not have stood out to you were the Gatekeepers. As we discussed in last weeks article, part of the physical security utilized in Biblical times, were the walls and gates used to provide security for the occupants and control access to the communities. 

    One of many scripture passages that describe the Gatekeepers is found in 1 Chronicles 9:22-27. 

    All these, who were chosen as gatekeepers at the thresholds, were 212. They were enrolled by genealogies in their villages. David and Samuel the seer established them in their office of trust. 23 So they and their sons were in charge of the gates of the house of the Lord, that is, the house of the tent, as guards. 24 The gatekeepers were on the four sides, east, west, north, and south. 25 And their kinsmen who were in their villages were obligated to come in every seven days, in turn, to be with these, 26 for the four chief gatekeepers, who were Levites, were entrusted to be over the chambers and the treasures of the house of God. 27 And they lodged around the house of God, for on them lay the duty of watching, and they had charge of opening it every morning. 1 Chronicles 9:22-27

    The Gatekeepers at this time were charged with providing security for the Temple. We read here they were Levites entrusted overt the chambers and treasures of the house of God (verse 26). Temple gatekeepers were in charge access to the Temple including, who entered and who exited. They ensured the order and reverence for God’s house. They were tasked with protecting Israelites from themselves, if they chose to try and enter the Temple, when they were unclean (2 Chronicles 23:19). They also protected it from those outside the Israelite tribes. We see then the Gatekeepers were tasked with guarding against both internal and external threats. The Gatekeepers were also responsible for guarding the Temple treasures and the storehouses (1 Chronicles 9:26, 20-22; Nehemiah 12:25). 

    We see the importance of Gatekeepers in Nehemiah 7:1, when they are among the first positions filled after the completion of the wall. Again we see the importance of a protective role for the inhabitants of the community and guarding against the outside people groups who had already been threatening the rebuilding efforts. The number of Gatekeepers varied depending on the time period. I Chronicles 9 records 212, Ezra 2:42, 139 and 1 Chronicles 23:5, 4,000. 

    We see throughout the Old Testament, after the exile, the need for Temple Gatekeepers. They provided protection against both internal and external threats to the Temple and God’s people. They also provided protection, inventory control, and watched over the physical property of the Temple including its treasures and storehouses. These tasks are very similar to what many church security teams do today.

     The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), 1 Ch 9:22–27.

  • April 11, 2022 1:02 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    And he said to Judah, “Let us build these cities and surround them with walls and towers, gates and bars. The land is still ours, because we have sought the Lord our God. We have sought him, and he has given us peace on every side.” So they built and prospered. 1 Chronicles 14:7

    Today when we think about physical security many thing may come to mind. We have locks on the doors and windows to our homes. We have fences and walls to mark boundaries and property lines. Surveillance cameras, access control, alarms, and other technology assists us in protecting both people and property. What does the Bible say about physical security? 

    The scriptures clearly describe cities as having walls and towers. Examples include Rehab hiding the spies (Joshua 2:1-24), Solomon building and fortifies cities (1 Kings 9:15, 17-23; 2 Chronicles 8:3-10), Hezekiah fortifying Jerusalem (2 Kings 20:20; 2 Chronicles 322-8, 30; Isaiah 36:2-22) and Nehemiah completing the wall (Nehemiah 6:15-16). Walls provided physical protection from other people groups and defined territory. Towers are used to describe fortification, a structure used for the purpose of strengthening defenses. 

    Gates provided access to the cities and had different functions whether it was a celebrated entry way serving as a main entrance to the community or a gate used for dung removal or other utility. Gates were places were business was conducted and disputes were arbitrated. They did provide for the physical security of the city by providing an entry point for normal and invited users through natural surveillance of those entering the gates. Bars which were made of wood or metal were placed across doors and gates to secure them acting as a lock providing protection for the people inside the door or gate.  

    When we examine the scriptures we can see physical security was often a need just as it is today. Many of the same solutions we use today are found in the Bible. Those include walls, gates, towers, bars and other means of fortification. 

  • April 03, 2022 6:32 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    What does the Bible say about physical security in the church? How are we too respond to physical threats today? We recognize as followers of Christ we must hold to a Biblical worldview in all areas of life, but what does that look like when we talk about security? This is the introduction to a new series of articles which will be released each week examining what the Scriptures teach us about security related topics. 

    One of the most common verses used throughout the church security landscape today is Nehemiah 4:9. It says ”And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night.” This verse is the response by Nehemiah and God’s people to the opposition and threats of Sanballat and Tobiah and the Arabs and the Ammonites and the Ashdodites. In Nehemiah 4:7-8 they are presenting opposition to Nehemiah’s efforts to lead the rebuilding of the wall. Nehemiah 4:9 was Nehemiah and his peoples’ response to the threat and opposition. We should be using this same two-pronged approach to threats and violence the church is facing today (We will distinguish martyrdom and threats and violence later in this series of posts). 

    First, we need to pray just as this verse describes. We are called to be people of prayer throughout the scriptures. We are to pray for ourselves, our families, our friends, our enemies, our government, our society, our culture, and every other aspect of life. (Matthew 6:6; 7:7, Luke 6:27-28, Ephesians 6:18, Philippians 4:6-7, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, James 5:16, 1 John 1:9, 1 Timothy 2:1-3).  1 Peter 3:12 states “For the eyes of the Lord our on the righteous, and the ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” We must recognize God hears our prayers and we are to be people of prayer. 

    Second, we need to recognize we need to post a guard. The word translated guard in Nehemiah means one who is watching over for protection. This word is used eight times in the book of Nehemiah alone. In the context of Nehemiah we can read in verses 4:17a-18 “Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked. But the man who sounded the trumpet stayed with me.” 

    The concept of posting a guard is not just found in Nehemiah. In I Chronicles 26:12-16 we can see the watch established that will take place by the gatekeepers at the gates. They were tasked with the protection of the city and people. We can see in Jeremiah 51:11 “Set up a standard against the walls of Babylon; make the watch strong; set up watchmen; prepare the ambushes; for the Lord has both planned and done what he spoke concerning the inhabitants of Babylon. Again, the concept of watchmen and guarding for protection is clear. We need to recognize throughout the scriptures God uses His people many times rather than always taking action Himself. We see examples of Saul, David, and many others who God worked through foHis purposes. 

    Whether our safety and security ministry is just beginning or has been established for many years the foundation of our ministry must be the scriptures. Nehemiah 4:9 provides a clear two pronged approach resting in God’s sovereignty through both prayer to Him and the use of His people as protectors. 

  • July 07, 2021 7:02 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Does your church have an Emergency Response Plan or Emergency Action Plan? If the answer is yes, do you address the unique needs of children in your plan? Whether you have a plan or not you must be prepared to respond to emergencies occurring within your children’s ministries. There are many different types of events that can occur as we minister to the children God has blessed is with.  

    There are several elements to our plan that need to have specific responses for those under eighteen years of age. We should have a fire and evacuation plan for all buildings where children may be ministered too. In the event of a fire alarm activation, fire, natural gas leak, power outage, natural disaster, man-made disaster or other phenomenon we must be able to evacuate the children safely. We must have alternative locations we can take those children to, whether it is an unaffected building a safe distance from the event or a specific outdoor area. We need to plan to take our check-in and out system with us. We need to be able to account for every child. We need procedures that designate someone to check restrooms, hallways, and other common areas for those who may not be with their assigned group or class. We need to think about how we are going to reunify families, which we will discuss in another post.

    Do you have a plan for medical emergencies affecting those under eighteen on your property? How do you handle a child having an anaphylactic reaction to an allergen? How do you share children’s allergies while still respecting their privacy? These are additional concerns you need to address in your plan. Children who have Epinephrine Pens or Inhalers should be asked to bring them and keep them with them everywhere they go on campus. Who is first aid, CPR, AED, and Stop-the-Bleed trained in your ministries? Do you have licensed medical providers in the church who are willing to assist when needed for medical emergencies? How will these immediate responders be summoned to provide assistance? These are all questions that must be considered and answered in the best way possible for your specific ministry.

    What actions do you take if a teacher suddenly notices a child missing from the class? How do you handle noncustodial parents who want to remove their child from your care? You must have plans to search the immediate and surrounding areas in the event of a missing child. You need to quickly determine which child is missing and where they were last observed. How do you determine the child was not picked up by a parent or guardian? Who do you call if someone other than an authorized person comes to pick up a child? What do you tell the person insisting you turn over their child?

    These are just some of the questions you need to ask as you develop and update your emergency response plans. Children are our most valuable gift from God and we must be prepared to meet their needs in the event of an emergency.

  • July 05, 2021 2:58 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Whether you are starting a new safety or security ministry at your church or have a well-established safety team one of the questions we frequently ask is “What is the risk?” What are the incidents most likely to take place at our church? What incidents do we spend most of our time training to respond too? What are our training objectives? Why? How do we create a training plan for our team?

    We need to understand the different types of incidents which may occur at our ministries. There are many ways we can categorize them, but to begin with we are going to examine the frequency of different events.

    When we examine incidents in our houses of worship among the most frequent will be medical emergencies. Our children and youth may be injured on the playground, experience an allergic reaction, or experience medical emergencies resulting from diabetes, asthma, and other conditions. Slips, trips, falls, and other accidents may impact congregants of all ages. Senior adults may suffer cardiac events, strokes, falls, or other medical emergencies. We must be prepared for these frequent medical emergencies when they arise. The frequent nature of these emergencies certainly places them in the category of high frequency incidents.

    Other high frequency incidents we will likely encounter will include theft, vandalism, suspicious activity, trespassing, disturbances, and other offenses. These offenses usually do not occur as often as medical emergencies. Thefts may involve a variety of property from relatively minor thefts of small objects to thefts of vehicles, audio & video equipment, and other technology.

    What about domestic violence, interpersonal conflict, child abductions, robbery, active shooters, and other potential violence? We must be prepared for these types of incidents, but at the same time recognize they will not occur at the same frequency as medical, property, or minor disturbances. These low frequency events require a different level of response, training, and mitigation strategies.

    When we create plans, policies, and procedures for our safety / security ministries we need to consider not only the different types of incidents which may occur, but the potential frequency of the incidents. A common error made in planning for incidents is to focus on low frequency incidents, since they are the ones most people are fearful of experiencing. While this preparation is important it should not come at the expense of ignoring or failing to prepare for the higher frequency incidents.

    While we recognize there are many risks churches must be prepared to address, the frequency of potential incidents can help us to prioritize our preparation and planning efforts. We cannot ever predict with certainty what incidents we may encounter. However, examining the frequency of events can guide us as we prepare for those we are more likely to encounter while also having contingencies in place for low frequency incidents.

  • April 27, 2021 1:36 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The significance of child protection policies for our churches should be one of our top priorities in ministry. In part one of this series, we are going to explore why we need to focus on protecting the children in our care from a variety of perspectives. There are several questions we should be asking ourselves.

    The first question I am often asked is “why do we need to be concerned?” Our God is sovereign, and He is going to protect the children. I completely agree God is sovereign. However, although we recognize He can do all things in His own power there are many times He chooses to work through His people.  Unfortunately, often the wolf is wearing sheep's clothing. I don’t want us to become paranoid about the safety of our children at church. However, we need to be aware there is a very real threat against them today. We need to be prepared to educate, prevent, and respond to these threats.

    Why do we need to be concerned?

    Let’s start by examining what Jesus teaches us about children. In Matthew 19:13-14 we read “13 Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, 14 but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” 15 And he laid his hands on them and went away.[1]” In a time in history when children were not valued by many people Jesus is emphasizing the importance of ministering to them. In Luke 9 we see Jesus using children to demonstrate an important lesson. “47 But Jesus, knowing the reasoning of their hearts, took a child and put him by his side 48 and said to them, “Whoever receives this child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. For he who is least among you all is the one who is great.”[2] There are many other Scriptures pointing to the importance of children. We can surmise from these verses and others Jesus had a high view of children. When we look at the teaching of Christ, we can see we have a spiritual and a moral obligation to protect the children in our care. None of us desire for a child to be physically, spiritually, or emotionally in our ministry.

    The moral and the spiritual impact of children being abused in a ministry setting absolutely impacts the Kingdom of God. Not only does it shine a negative spotlight on Christ’s church, but it also impacts those who do not believe or follow Him. The child who is abused in a ministry context will certainly have spiritual struggles. These struggles may extend to the parents and other family members, the other members of the church, and the community at large. When a child is abused in a ministry setting the tragedy is not limited to impacting the child and their family, it often will extend out into the community. It will have a negative impact on the image of the church and its believer’s, which will translate to a lack of trust.

    We clearly have a spiritual and moral duty to protect the children in our care! What about our church’s legal duty in this world? When we look at litigation and liability, we need to be aware of the significant impact this will have on our ministries. In Mirlis v. Greer, 952 F. 3d 36 (2nd Cir. 2020) a federal appeals court ruled that a $21.7 million verdict against a teacher and private Jewish school for the teacher’s sexual molestation of a student was not excessive and would not be overturned. In Doe v. Apostolic Assembly (W.D. Tex. 2020) a federal court in Texas ruled that a church could be sued for punitive damages as a result of its reckless handling of a sexual abuse case involving a minor victim. Punitive damages and personal liability of board members was triggered by gross negligence. Richard Hammar, J.D., C.P.A. of Church Law and Tax identifies sexual abuse of a minor as the number one reason churches end up in court.

    This brings us to the answer to our first question. We need to protect the children in our care because we have a spiritual, moral and legal obligation. We need to make certain we are protecting these children who are the future of the church from predators who may be among us.

    Note: Church Law & Tax is an amazing resource for churches on a variety of topics including child protection. This is not a paid review or advertisement. We try to bring you ministry resources that will provide firm foundations in ministry safety and security. More information is available at

    [1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 19:13–15). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

    [2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Lk 9:47–48). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

  • July 08, 2020 7:23 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Do you know the warning signs of terrorism? Is the church a potential target? The report released by the 9/11 Commission mentioned our State 59 times. The Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center (ACTIC) has identified eight signs of terrorism and they want you to be familiar with them. These signs may be observed in a variety of locations, including many that could occur at churches. Here is a summary of the eight signs, for more detailed information including a video visit the ACTIC Website at

    Surveillance - Recording or monitoring activities for the purpose of gathering information or intelligence. May include the use of cameras, note-taking, drawing diagrams or maps.

    Elicitation- Attempting to gain and gather information about operations, infrastructure, or people whether face-to-face, eaves dropping, email, mail, phone calls, and asking questions.

    Testing Security- Attempts to measure reaction times to security, penetrate physical security barriers, monitor procedures, assess security. People testing security and pushing the limit.

    Financing- Suspicious transactions involving large cash payments, deposits, or withdrawals are common signs of terrorist funding.

    Supply Acquisition - Purchasing or stealing explosives, weapons, ammo, etc. May include acquiring uniforms, decals, flight manuals, passes, ID badges.

    Suspicious Person Out of Place - People who don't seem to belong in the workplace, neighborhood, or in a particular building or area.

    Rehearsals- Putting people in position and moving them around according to their plan without actually committing the terrorist act.

    Deployment - People and supplies getting into position to commit the act. This is the person's last chance to alert authorities before the terrorist act occurs.

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