Security Connections – Looking Forward in 2024

by | Editorial, Security, Security Connections

Welcome to the second January edition of Security Connections. In my last editorial, we looked back over 2023, recapping security for churches with schools, the creation of a threat assessment team, and the importance of training your staff and volunteers on how to survive a mass shooting. This edition, we turn our attention to the upcoming year, where I’ll provide seven tips to enhance your church safety program in 2024.

Number One: Invest in Yourself in 2024

We always start the year with good intentions, setting our SMART goals and planning our achievements. However, personal development is often neglected. At the core of our goals, it’s essential to grow, sustain, and develop our church safety programs by investing in ourselves. I have committed to attending six church safety and security conferences this year to grow my community and knowledge. On May 17-18, I will be speaking at Protecting the Flock hosted by Browns Missionary Baptist Church in Mississippi. Following that is the National Peer Support, Chaplain & Safety Conference on June 8th in Kansas City. Then, I’m off to Colorado July 25-27 for the Security Summit, hosted by the Faith-Based Security Network. After a short break, I will host my own 9th Annual Securing Your Place of Worship, an online and fully virtual church safety and security event on September 10 and 11—no travel necessary! Later, I’ll head to Missouri for the Strategos International National Christian Protectors Conference on October 3 and 4.

And finally, here’s one you can’t miss: The Church Facilities Expo is moving to Chattanooga, Tennessee, on October 21-23 this year. It’s now a four-in-one conference, featuring a dedicated Safety and Security Conference for Houses of Worship. For more information and to secure your spot, click here. If you’d like to join me on stage or propose a topic for consideration, please connect with the event manager, Stephanie Lippi at slippi@churchfacilitiesexpo.com.

Number Two: Find a Coach or a Mentor

A few years back, a profound statement about my business, Kingswood Security, made by a friend of mine sparked a significant change: “Simon, if you go alone, you go faster. If you go with someone, you go further.” This inspired me to join masterminds, find a business mentor, and learn from those just a step or two ahead of me. Having a mentor has transformed my business perspective, and I believe it can do the same for you with your church safety program. This insight led me to convert my Amazon best-seller, “Securing Church Operations,” into an online and group coaching program, fostering a community where leaders can learn and grow together.

Number Three: Schedule Your Safety and Security Training

The frequent question in my inbox is, “Simon, how do we get engagement for training?” My advice is to schedule your security training well in advance. Pinpoint the topics you wish to cover, identify the best speakers on those subjects, confirm the dates, and notify your staff and volunteers. Here’s my most crucial piece of advice: do not cancel the training, even if attendance dips. Experience has shown that consistency is key, so find your topic, book your speaker, and proceed with the training, focusing on those present and willing to learn.

Number Four: Train Your Team on Mass Shooting Survival

There’s been debate among criminologists recently about the efficacy of mass shooter survival training, but I believe it provides more than just strategies—it offers hope. As Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” This training encourages the belief that we can persevere and overcome. With the rise in mass shootings, it is increasingly crucial to instruct your church staff, congregations, and volunteers on survival techniques, equipping them with a step-by-step guide to success.

Number Five: Document Your Risk Management Program

Documentation of risk programs is an area often overlooked by many church leaders. This year, I urge you to meticulously record your safety and security procedures, answering the who, what, where, when, why, and how of your operations. Establishing and adhering to a standard is vital for building a consistent and enduring program, ensuring that your protocols and legacy remain intact for the benefit of all, even if you or someone else moves on from your safety programs. 

Number Six: Conduct a Security Risk Assessment

If you have previously conducted a risk assessment, revisit and refine it. If it’s your first time, commit to this process in 2024. A professional security risk assessment is the most effective method to uncover vulnerabilities within your church management program and to devise strategies to mitigate these risks. Remember, not all risks can be eliminated, but they can be managed, covering aspects such as people, programs, buildings, and security technology.

Number Seven: Prepare to Apply for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program

The Nonprofit Security Grant Program (NSGP) excites me greatly. Over the past few years, I’ve assisted nonprofits in securing over $2 million in grant awards. If you are not yet acquainted with the NSGP, I encourage you to explore it. 501c3 nonprofits can apply for FEMA funding of up to $150,000 per location, with a cap of three locations and $450,000, for security enhancements. A prerequisite is that you have completed a security risk assessment, to ensure that you have identified and can articulate your vulnerabilities. The remediation strategies become your requests for grant dollars to close out those gaps in your program.

What’s Next for Your Security Program?

Reflecting on our last editorial, we have looked back at the past year’s security challenges and then forward to investing in ourselves, finding mentors, scheduling training in advance, preparing our teams for mass shooting situations, documenting our safety procedures, conducting a security risk assessment, and preparing for the NSGP grant application.

So, as we conclude this two-part series, I pose you this question. Which of these areas will you focus on in 2024?

Will I share the stage with you in Chattanooga? I extend an invitation to join me at the Church Facilities Expo Safety and Security Conference on October 21/23 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. For more information and to secure your place, you can do so here.

Simon Osamoh serves as the editor of Security Connections and is nationally recognized for his work in safeguarding houses of worship. He began his career in England, spending 14 years as a detective specializing in serious and organized crime before leading Counter Terrorism at the Mall of America in Minnesota. Simon founded Kingswood Security Consulting and the Worship Security Academy, aimed at providing security solutions to houses of worship. He volunteers as a security advisor to Westwood Community Church, where he has served for over a decade. He is the author of two bestselling books and the host of the Worship Security Academy podcast. For submissions or topic ideas, reach out to Simon at sosamoh@worshipfacility.com

Interested in getting other Security Connections articles delivered right to your inbox?

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Sign Up for Connections, the Worship Facility Newsletter!

NEW THIS WEEK

Training new tech team members on video streaming

Training new house of worship tech team members on video streaming involves imparting both technical skills and an understanding of the unique requirements of streaming live events in a religious setting. Here's a comprehensive guide to help you train your team:...

Introduction to the RF Explorer Pro Spectrum Analyzer

For far too long, far too many wireless system designers and operators have had to work in the blind, with little awareness of the RF environments that they work in. Today, with broadcast TV channels more densely packed together in a sharply reduced UHF spectrum,...

Stop Wasting Money

Seriously, stop. If you are not seeking and following energy saving guidelines, you are spending money you do not have to. Money spent on facilities, when not necessary, take away dollars available for your ministerial mission. The logical response to this opening is...