Extra: Church Security
It's a nightmare that all too often is becoming a reality across the country. Church congregations are the victims of mass shootings. Local church leaders are getting training in how to protect themselves.
For many, it’s a sacred place where you feel safe and secure to worship God. Unfortunately, it’s not immune to the forces of evil.
And it’s happening more and more frequently in congregations around the country.
“The need for church security is overwhelming. Since 1999, violence in churches has gone up 2,380 percent. Last year, there were 248 church attacks. And last year, 74 people got killed in American churches,” said Barry Young with Strategos International.
Barry Young travels throughout the United States training church leaders in how to keep their congregations safe.
Recently, his company, Strategos International, offered a two day training seminar to churches in South and Central Alabama.
“So churches are viewed as soft targets because criminals see them as everybody’s back is to the door, everybody is facing forward, and most churches take cash offering. The greatest mistake we see in churches is this… Most churches, they believe they can’t be attacked and that’s the greatest mistake churches can make,” said Young.
Young says the two main reasons for church attacks are robbery and domestic violence spill over.
He says every church needs a comprehensive security plan in place, and they fall into three main areas.
“They need look out. They need to have people who are trained to look out for people that would do harm to their churches. They need training in get out. How do we get out of the church? Lastly, in a last case scenario, they need training in take out. So the three-out principle is Look Out, Get Out, Take Out,” said Young.
Young says it starts with church volunteers on the front lines.
“First of all, they need a parking team. These are people who are just welcoming people, but they are observant of suspicious behavior. Then they need an usher and greeter team, and they are making sure they are greeting everyone and sharing the love of God with everyone. But, again, they are practicing awareness. And then they have an armed church security team. We recognize that churches partner with law enforcement, they utilize their law enforcement and military members of their church and form a team of people. Because what happens is, we can not protect our churches unless we have a team approach,” said Young.
Hal Taylor is with Trinity Presbyterian Church in Montgomery.
He says the 125-year-old church has some security measures in place.
“We are attending today to see where we may be lacking in a few things and see where we could make the people who go to church there feel more safe. And when they come there, they enjoy worshiping and not have to worry about any type of threat or harm,” said Taylor.
Taylor says it’s a proactive approach to something he hopes to never have to use.
“With today’s society, if you don’t have it… Something could happen and you are going to go, ‘wow, wish we would have went to some training or had some measures in place to keep this from happening,'” said Taylor.
Young says it’s all about creating a strong team that notices each person walking in the door, greeting them from the parking lot to the sanctuary, and reporting suspicious behavior.
Everyone knows what steps to take in case anything should escalate.
In the end, it creates a safer environment for everyone.
“What I love about church security, is when its done right, the church becomes more friendly. When church security is done right, the church becomes more welcoming and more open,” said Young.