Often I am asked why would a church feel the need to start a Safety or Security Ministry. Let’s address a couple of the most important reasons for a church to start a team.
1 – What is the primary reason to start a security team? Safety of the members and guests!
Although the recent church violence has provided a kick in the pants to get some churches to start looking at security, the primary benefit is really have a group of watchmen to look after the family. Over the past 6 years my team has dealt with about 5 heart attacks, 2 potential strokes, at least 20 minor play injuries in the toddler area, early pregnancy’s, several dehydrated people, 4 or 5 of the elderly who have fallen, probably 15 plus small kids who lost their parents, 2 bi-polar people, three with broken bones, one stalker of college girls, 2 sexual predators, 5 fall festivals, 6 concerts in the facility, 4 major seminars, and a get out the vote rally in 2004 with Shaun Hannity, Bill Bennett, Ollie North and Neil Boortz. We have had up to 3,000 people at some of these events.
In none of these events did any staff member need address a violent issue. But we cared for a lot of people and looked over the groups to make sure that all were safe. We were prepared to evacuate them in case of a fire, move them to safe areas if we had a tornado, and treat them if there was a medical need. Many times we just talked to a person who was having a problem and needed to talk.
The primary reason to start a team is because we care for the members and guests of our churches and need to have care givers in place.
2 – Due Diligence
A second reason is to know that we have done Due Diligence.
The definition of Due diligence in civil litigation (also known as due care) is the effort made by an ordinarily prudent person or reasonable party to avoid harm to another party. Failure to make this effort may be considered negligence.
The churches insurance company may not be willing to cover the awards in a lawsuit claiming the church permitted a violent event to happen if they believe the church has not completed their due diligence. This could be to a child who walked out of a toddler area, a fire exit that was filled with summer bible school items, a child taken by a parent with custodial rights, a robbery in a dark parking lot, a physical assault or lastly an active shooter. Although the number of assaults and shootings in churches is rare, it is increasing. If a team has been proposed and the church management team declined to implement it, can the church be held liable for the incident? Will the insurance company say the church in negligent and decline to pay a multi million dollar award?
With the noted rise in church violence you need to think about these items:
- You have a duty to protect the church family and visitors
- Do you provide reasonable protection for those in the facility
- Do you do background check for staff and volunteers?
- There is a tremendous amount on published incident on church violence, sexual misconduct, poor facility maintenance issues causing accidents.
- Have you reviewed the above items
- Have you completed a risk assessment?
3 – Peace of Mind for the church body
Can you live with yourselves if a child is assaulted or kidnapped by a predator or non-custodial parent?
Can the church pay a 1 or 2 million dollars or more settlement in a lawsuit and survive if the insurance company decided you have not met due diligence standards?
The reality of the team is it is really there to be a servant based ministry to help people as well as keep them safe from a multitude of events.