9 Things You Can Do to Have Safe Worship

By: TBuzz

Church pew
Houses of worship are where we go to feel safe and secure. We expect the environment to be peaceful and comforting…an escape from daily stressors. It has been known as a safe place for people to gather. A house of worship is a place where we tend to let down our guard and focuson positive thoughts.

Houses of worship are not without safety and security issues.

We overlook potential threats because we hope and believe that threats to our safety could never happen where we worship. We believe that people are inherently good and have good intentions, especially if they attend worship services. However, we know that no place is immune from attacks, including houses of worship. Because houses of worship are open and welcoming to anyone with a desire to attend, there is little control as to who is in the congregation or what their intent might be. Once we truly believe that threats can and do happen here, we can begin to strategize about how to address any vulnerabilities that exist. Identifying and managing the risks are the first steps in developing safety protocols for protecting the congregation

Some houses of worship develop security teams to assist with determining the best course action to take regarding risks that may occur. Ideally, the security team should be fully vetted and have some expertise in the areas of concern to effectively mitigate any associated safety risks. For example, my father was a detective and was asked to serve in a security role at our church. He was already trained in situational awareness, licensed to carry a firearm, and trained in crowd protection. Our pastor asked him to serve in a safety capacity at church, but it was not well- known throughout the congregation. An effective team may include medical personnel, law enforcement or military personnel, firefighters, insurance agents and risk management personnel. Anyone selected to the security team should undergo a background check and national sex offender registry search, assessment of their skills to prove proficiency, and training related to interacting with children and the congregation. There are various areas of concern that may increase risks to staff and the congregation, including property and building safety, congregation safety, protection of finances and offerings, and medical or disaster emergencies. Along with identifying the risks, action plans and solutions must be developed. One of the key components to such a plan is to ensure that the congregation knows what to do in case of an emergency. If there is a medical emergency, who is responsible for rendering aid, calling 9-1-1, and ensuring that everyone remains calm and safe. We know that anything can happen at any time, regardless of where you are.
diverse group of kids in church

As a member of the congregation, there are things you can do with the help of the identified safety team to help keep yourself and others safe:

1. First and foremost, situational awareness, being aware of your surroundings, helps to identify a potential threat. Listening for anything that seems out of the ordinary and reporting it to the safety team can prove helpful. Stay alert.

2. If you notice that a fellow congregant has a medical emergency, alert the safety team or medical personnel in a timely manner. Your quick response might possibly save a life.

3. Help others stay calm by your example of remaining calm and in control.

4. Observe warning signs. If you notice someone exhibiting concerning behavior, alert a member of the safety team, as he or she has trained for these situations.

5. If you feel that your safety is threatened, call 9-1-1.

6. If you witness theft while attending service, alert the safety team about what you observed. The team will handle the matter.

7. Because houses of worship are often deemed “soft targets”, ask your safety team about conducting the Citizens Response to Active Attacker Training for the congregation. This training will help to provide guidance on how to respond should there be a violent incident while at worship service or anywhere for that matter. Places of worship are “hardened” by enacting protective measures to minimize risks and fortify the building.

8. Children’s ministries should have safeguards in place. Children should be taught about appropriate and inappropriate behavior of others. Require parental consent for pictures or videos to be taken of children. Be sure that all staff who interact with children have

passed a background check and are legally allowed to work with children. There should be a child check-in station for authorized personnel and parents only.

9. Have an exit plan. Identify the exits for escaping or determine where you will hide in case of an attack before an emergency occurs.

Man having medical condition and woman calling for help

Learn lifesaving skills. Based on FEMA’s Preparedness Community, there are five essential
actions in providing “first care”:

Call 9-1-1: Don’t assume someone else will call. Operators will walk coach you through
the life-threatening situation.
Stay Safe:
Assess the situation. Pause and use all available senses. Decide whether
to stay and help, grab the injured and get to safety or get yourself to safety.

Stop the Bleeding: Apply steady, firm pressure on the source of bleeding until first
responders arrive. If you can’t control the bleeding with manual pressure, use a

Position the Injured: Lay the injured on their side, legs slightly bent with bottom hand
reached outward and head resting near hand. Raise the chin forward with mouth pointed

Provide Comfort: Share names and ask basic questions. Tell them what you know
happened, but do not speculate. Keep them warm and offer a hand to hold.

Remember, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), you are the help until help arrives. The steps outlined in this article will help you be safe in your place of worship.
big red exit door
Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *