Strategic Security: Setting SMART Goals for Safer Worship in the New Year

by | Facilities, Operations, Security, Security Connections

As the year draws to a close, it’s important to pause and reflect on our progress. Often, we focus on the future, on the tasks and goals yet to be achieved, neglecting to appreciate the journey and the milestones we’ve reached. When reviewing your 2023 risk management and security programs, take a moment to acknowledge your accomplishments and allow yourself a moment of pride for the successes achieved.

Having recognized our accomplishments, we now turn our attention to the coming year. One common challenge I’ve observed in security ministry is the tendency for programs to drift. This drift is never deliberate; whether you are an executive pastor juggling multiple responsibilities or a part-time security leader balancing church duties with your personal and work life, it’s natural for initial goals to veer off course. However, this drift can be mitigated by adhering to a structured system.

SMART goals

You might be familiar with SMART goals. This goal-setting framework stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound, and it’s particularly effective in establishing clear and actionable objectives for church safety and security programs.

  • Specific: Instead of a broad aim like “improve security” set a concrete goal such as “install a new video surveillance system in the church parking lot.”
  • Measurable: To track progress, set measurable criteria. If the objective is to reduce vandalism, measure the success by the percentage decrease in incidents.
  • Achievable: Ensure that goals are realistic by confirming that the necessary resources and capabilities are available or can be acquired.
  • Relevant: Align goals with the church’s broader mission. Security enhancements should contribute to a safe environment for worship and community activities.
  • Time-bound: Assign deadlines to goals to establish urgency and help in prioritization.

Let’s apply the SMART framework to two scenarios to demonstrate how you might craft your goals:

EXAMPLE ONE: Training on Suspicious Behavior

  • Specific: Train all church staff, volunteers, and regular attendees on how to identify and report suspicious behavior.
  • Measurable: Achieve a 100% completion rate for the training workshop by the designated deadline.
  • Achievable: Organize necessary resources and schedule training at convenient times for attendees.
  • Relevant: The training directly supports the proactive detection of security threats.
  • Time-bound: Complete the training within three months with bi-weekly sessions.

SMART Goal: Within three months, our church will conduct bi-weekly training sessions on suspicious behavior, ensuring complete participation and proficiency among staff, volunteers, and attendees.

EXAMPLE TWO: Implementing a Threat Assessment Team

  • Specific: Establish a church threat assessment team to identify and mitigate security risks.
  • Measurable: Track progress through team recruitment, training completion, and the initial risk assessment.
  • Achievable: Recruit and train team members from church staff and volunteers interested in security.
  • Relevant: The team is crucial to the church’s commitment to a secure environment.
  • Time-bound: Form the team and conduct the first risk assessment within six months.

SMART Goal: In six months, our church will have a fully operational threat assessment team conducting monthly risk assessments to proactively manage security threats.

Now, with an understanding of SMART goals, write down three goals for the upcoming year for your church’s risk management and safety program. Why three? Starting with a manageable number prevents becoming overwhelmed and promotes action.

Take a moment to outline your goals:

  • Specific: [Your specific goal]
  • Measurable: [Your criteria for measuring progress]
  • Achievable: [Resources and capabilities to achieve the goal]
  • Relevant: [How the goal aligns with the church’s mission]
  • Time-bound: [Your deadline for the goal]

Now that you have three goals recorded, remember that setting SMART goals is an essential part of your continuous improvement in risk management and safety. SMART goals help prevent drift and ensure each step that you take is intentional and in line with your mission. 

I encourage you to solidify three SMART goals before the end of the year that will underpin your security strategy. By starting small and focusing on these foundational elements, you are building a safer church community. Let’s step forward with determination and purpose, using SMART goals as your roadmap to overcome any challenges and ensure that your place of worship remains peaceful and safe.

Simon Osamoh is the editor of Security Connections and a foremost expert in securing houses of worship. He founded Kingswood Security Consulting and the Worship Security Academy. Additionally, Simon is a two-time Amazon best-selling author and currently serves as the security advisor to Westwood Community Church in Excelsior, Minnesota.

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