Every Church, Regardless of Size, Should Have a Risk-Management Program
There was once a time in our past that Churches were regarded as places to be revered. No one dared to destroy or vandalize the property, or those worshiping within. Those days are no more. It is nothing to hear of arsons targeting Church structures, nor is it a surprise when haters walk into to a service to physically harm those in attendance. The statistics are staggering.
Church Violence Statistics
Church security consultant Carl Chinn recently released these statistics in his 2014 report on violent incidents occurring on the properties of churches or faith-based organizations:1
- 176 deadly force incidents were documented nationwide at churches and faith-based organizations. This passed the previous high mark in Chinn’s report—139—reached in 2012. Chinn began compiling his report in 1999. Last year also saw a near-record total of violent deaths for Chinn’s report: 74. In 2012, 76 deaths occurred.
- 52 of the 74 violent deaths (70 percent) were innocent victims. The other 22 deaths, or 30 percent, were suicides or perpetrators killed in the act.
- There were 14 suicides. Unfortunately, 8 other victims died at the hands of those committing their own suicides.
- The first violent incident of 2014 occurred on January 1. The Rev. Eric Freed was brutally beaten to death at his Sacred Heart Church in Eureka, California.
- The last violent incident of 2014 occurred on December 30, when leaders of Living Water Fellowship in Kissimmee, Florida, gathered to dismiss an employee from his staff position. The employee pulled out a gun and began shooting at the pastor. The pastor protected himself and the others in the room by shooting back, which disabled the attacker and stopped the attack.
- There were 24 incidents in which the pastor or priest of the church was directly involved. Of those leaders, 6 died in the altercation or committed suicide.
Add to these, those in the past few months, including the nine murdered at the Church in Charleston, SC, and you discover that every Church should have a plan in place to assess and limit those risks to which the House of Worship has fallen prey.
God Will Not Do for You, that Which You can Do
To remain naïve, believing that surely God will not allow anything to happen to our Church facilities or the people within, shows our gullibility. Why should God protect anyone who will not take necessary precautions to first protect themselves and their property? Once we do everything in our power, then He will assist us in protecting our property and our people.
Every Church in the past few years, which has been the result of some tragedy and/or violence, wished they would have had more insurance and more safety precautions in place. At least, when violence and/or tragedy strike, if we have proper risk management in place and proper insurance, we can minimize any loss. I am not suggesting passing attendees through metal detectors, or making your Church such a fortress that it is no longer inviting. I am suggesting that our Churches find the necessary balance to be good stewards over everything, including people, which God has given us.
Steps Every Church can Take
In his article on Risk Management, Jeff Hanna provided a few simple steps which could be employed in any Church setting.2
- Use unobtrusive cameras and door release systems;
- Train and deploy personnel that act as a security and safety team;
- Equip staff to respond to emergencies;
- Utilize a health and welfare ministry;
- Set guidelines for church usage;
- Document everything in the financial area of the church;
- Set policies for who and how people are selected to care for children and youth;
- Establish transportation guidelines;
- Perform routine inspection and maintenance programs; and
- Ensure that the church has adequate insurance coverage and a plan should anything go wrong.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your risk management program, but every day any Church delays in starting such a program, is another day their property and people are at risk.
How We can Help
Chitwood & Chitwood has been the foremost expert on Church Management for more than 78 years. No one knows what we know and can do what we do. At our conferences we teach a multi-faceted Church Management program to protect our Churches from outside agencies which seek their demise.
Every Pastor and Church Leader should make it a priority to attend the nearest Church Management Conference in the city nearest them. To register, visit us at www.cmtc.org or call 800-344-0076. You will be glad you.
For us, “This is not a job—It is a Ministry!”