If you’re looking to improve your church security in 2023, there are a few things you can do to make sure that your congregation, volunteers and staff are kept safe. These five things will help you maximize the safety and security of your church, while improving on your security program from where you left off last year.
- Create a security budget
If you don’t yet have a budget for security in 2023, it’s time to create one! Your church needs to know how much money is being spent on safety and security, and if there are ways to improve upon that spending. Consider how much money you spend on your current security program, and then create a plan for where those funds will be allocated in the coming year. Having a realistic budget also helps level set expectations as your equipment and training needs change.
- Conduct a gap analysis of your security program
After you have determined how much money you have to spend on security, you should conduct a gap analysis to find out what needs improvement in your current program. You can do this by conducting personal interviews with staff members, volunteers the church safety team and anyone else you feel would have good input into gaps within your security programs. Review information from previous security risk assessments, after action reviews, current plans and any involvement you may have had with outside agencies such as law enforcement or insurance companies.
- Set security goals for 2023
Once you have completed these steps, it’s time to set goals for 2023! These should include both short-term goals (such as installing more cameras) and long-term goals (such as implementing an updated access control system). This will help ensure that nothing falls through the cracks when it comes time to make decisions regarding changes based on data collected during the gap analysis exercises outlined above. My good friend Carl Chinn from the Faith Based Security Network (FBSN) always says what gets measured gets managed. How can you measure growth and progress within
your security programs if you haven’t set any SMART goals?
- Make a training plan for the year
When you have a budget, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of spending money on new equipment and supplies but one thing that shouldn’t be overlooked is training. Especially when it comes to yearly planning, working with churches from all across the country I hear a consistent theme from leaders, how do we get better engagement when it comes to training? So, what is the answer? It’s simple, schedule training well in advance. If you wait until the end of the year and then try to schedule training, you will likely find that it’s too late and people are busy. You will have missed out on opportunities to get better engagement from both your staff and volunteers simply because they were not given enough warning on when to be available. I’ve found that trainings such as my curriculum’s at the Worship Security Academy work well because it’s self-paced distanced learning that staff and volunteers can take at home.
- Schedule out your tabletop and drill exercises
Tabletop exercises are great because they allow you to think through the process of what would happen if something went wrong. For example, if someone walked into your church with a gun, how would everyone react? Would everyone know where to go and what to do? What happens if there are children around? A tabletop exercise can help answer these
questions so that everyone knows what their role is before an actual emergency occurs. Drill exercises allow you to practice what would happen during an actual emergency situation at your church without any real threat present—and they’re crucial!
Imagine if you had never practiced how to evacuate the building and then a fire started. The first time your staff has to evacuate everyone out of the building can be scary, but it’s also a good way to find out what works and what doesn’t. If someone is injured during an evacuation drill, they will know exactly where they should go for help. It’s also important that everyone knows their role in any emergency situation so that they don’t feel like they have no idea what to do when something happens. Planning out your tabletops and drills earlier is another way to boost attendance as the dates are known well in advance.
Set yourself up for success in 2023!
Security ministry must always be built on a strong security culture, however if you can review these five things as we go into 2023 you will have a safer and more secure environment for not only your congregation but your staff and church volunteers.
Simon Osamoh is one of the country’s leading experts in securing houses of worship. He is a British American and founder of Kingswood Security Consulting and the Worship Security Academy. Simon spent 14 years as a Detective in England working
serious and organized crime. He moved to the United States to Head Counter Terrorism at Mall of America, Minnesota. Simon is a Christian and has spent over a decade helping non-profits stay safe and secure. He is the author of three books, Securing Church Operations, Church Safety Responding to Suspicious Behavior and 10 Powerful Strategies for Conflict De-escalation. He is the host of the Church Security Made Simple Podcast and a member of the Worship Facility Editorial Advisory Board.