Steps Every Church Must Take NOW: Pt 1


As a follow up to a previous blog, I find it interesting that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is taking steps and providing guidelines for Churches to reduce violence or terrorist attacks in their Houses of Worship.


Without a doubt we are living in a crazy world and it seems Churches are receiving the brunt of the attacks. Any Pastor or Church Leader or member that thinks their Church is immune from the actions of insane and demonically influenced pawns, are naïve. It is time we get our heads out of the sand and prepare to protect ourselves and those attending our services.


We have the best Security team in America protecting our events at our ICCM World Theater and Center. Our Security Chief, has put together the following steps based upon FEMA’s recommendations. I suggest that every Church put these or similar precautions in action now.




Steps FEMA says churches should take now—before a crisis unfolds.


In addition to specifically addressing active-shooter incidents, the FEMA Guide suggests a process that houses of worship should follow when developing an emergency operations plan (EOP). This article provides an overview of the Guide’s suggestions.


At the outset, churches should note that the Guide’s suggestions apply to all types of emergencies, not just active-shooter incidents. Like any entity, churches are susceptible to harm from natural disasters, power failures, explosions, and other similar events. Although harm due to human violence is always a concern, churches should not ignore other types of threats. Additionally, the Guide’s suggestions are adaptable to any size and type of congregation. Some of the details provided may seem applicable only to large groups, but groups of all sizes should consider the Guide’s suggestions and apply them as much as possible. Furthermore, churches with educational institutions on their property should consult FEMA’s Guide for Developing High-quality School Emergency Operations Plans for additional information.



Foundational Considerations


Three federal initiatives are helpful for drafting an effective EOP. Although churches are not required to use the terminology and approaches suggested by these initiatives, doing so will aid communication and collaboration with emergency management officials and emergency responders. Individuals working in these capacities at local, state, and national levels are familiar with, and trained to follow, the procedures outlined in federal initiatives.


Our President has signed Presidential Policy Directive 8 (PPD-8), which delineates the United States’ approach to preparing for national emergencies in terms of five focus areas—prevention, protection, mitigation, response, and recovery. The Guide defines these terms, which are outlined in Table 1:


Incorporating the terminology of PPD-8 into an EOP will help ensure that efforts undertaken by a church are aligned with those of first responders and others. Additionally, the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and Incident Command System (ICS) standardize the approaches with defining responsibilities and roles and managing specific types of incidents. Churches should become familiar with these systems and incorporate their procedures as appropriate. They are available at


Planning Principles


The Guide encourages an EOP that is leadership-supported, comprehensive, and inclusive, as further explained in Table 2 of the online guide.


Since this information is too vital and too detailed to present in one blog, look for Part 2 which will provide the steps and actions for each in the next installment.


How We Can Help


Chitwood & Chitwood is not only the best in the nation at Church Tax management and compliance; we are the best at complete Church management. Our more than 78 years of experience has taught us what others do not know.


At our Church Management Conferences we cover issues that are most important to the times in which we live and provide every Church with options to ensure their House of Worship is in compliance and their Leaders protected. Every Pastor and Church Leader should go to or call 800-344-0076 to register for a Conference nearest their location. You will be glad you did.


Remember, for us, “It is A Ministry—Not A Job!”