Every church that wants to grow in today's culture must make safety and security a top priority.
When parents walk in the doors of your church, they are wondering "Is my child going to be safe here?"
We live in a new reality. And the reality is families can be attacked at the store, while at work, while at the movie theater, at a sporting event, at school and yes, even at church.
More than ever, we must have safety and security measures in place if we are going to reach families. The average Millennial parents are not going to return to your church if they see that safety and security is lacking.
Here are 10 safety and security mistakes churches make.
1. No check-in and out plan or not enforcing the one you have. It is crucial to have a security system that enables you to control who picks up the children. Everyone should abide by this...that means even if the Pastor came to pick up his child and he didn't have a the matching security tag, he would need to have his ID checked to see if he is on the pick-up list. Any pastor who values the safety and security of his church members and their children, will be glad to abide by this.
If you don't currently have a check-in and check-out system, I recommend my friends at KidCheck. They can help you with your safety and security needs.
2. Allowing children to be alone with an adult. I was consulting at a church a few months ago and I saw a preschool room that only had one adult serving. Big red flag. Always, always, always have two adults in your rooms. No exceptions.
3. Not running a background check on volunteers. Yes, it does cost to do this. But it is something you can't afford not to do.
4. Not having a safety and security team. Every ministry needs a group of people who serve as volunteer safety and security people. They should be identified by their shirts, laynards, etc. They should be visible in the children's area. And if you can, also have a uniformed police office present as well. Parents will appreciate this and feel better about leaving their children with you.
5. Not having an amber alert plan. What happens when a child goes missing? It's important to have a step-by-step plan on what you will do.
6. Making the excuse of being a small church. I hear about many smaller churches that push back on having a safety and security plan. You'll hear "everyone knows everyone" or "we don't have enough kids to do this" or "we don't like formal processes like that, we are like a family."
If that is your mindset, I want to remind you of several shootings that have taken place in small churches in small towns. Every church, no matter the size, needs to have a safety and security plan.
7. Not locking down the children's ministry area when church starts. Can people walk into your children's area unhindered? If possible, only allow people with a security tag in your children's area. And have a way to lock down the hallways and rooms once service starts. This can help deter an active shooter.
8. Not having a security camera in the rooms. Having a camera in your rooms can be a lifesaver if something happens. You'll have clear evidence of what did or did not happen because we had a security camera in the room.
I remember once we had a nursery volunteer that dropped a child while trying to change his diaper. The baby was okay and it was helpful to be able to see exactly what happened.
9. Not having an evacuation plan. Fire alarm goes off. Not having an evacuation plan could be devastating. The evac plan should be clearly mapped out and volunteers should know what to do and where to go.
10. Not having a clear view for parents to be able to see in the room. Every room should have a window that enables parents to see inside the room from the hallway. This also adds another level of security. Most abuse happens behind closed doors. Eliminate that by not having any rooms that are behind closed doors with no viewing access.
Your turn. What are some other safety and security mistakes churches make? Share your thoughts and ideas in the comment section below.