If you do something as simple as watch the news for a few minutes, you’ll see that this world isn’t 100% safe.
Watch for a few weeks, and you’ll probably see a story about how even being at church isn’t 100% safe. And churches are taking measures to fight against this.
St. John United Church of Christ in Robinson, Texas, is now locking its doors during services on Sunday mornings.
Some churches are going a step further. They are using armed guards to keep watch at their church services. One particularly interesting idea from this article was that “In states where people are allowed to carry concealed weapons, volunteers have become a cost-effective means of providing the security that some churches have come to rely on.”
So what’s a church to do? Well, like any good reader of this blog, they should consider the message they are communicating with these actions.
Are you marketing fear? If you sat down and asked yourself about your local area, are you sure that it is so fundamentally unsafe that you need to take drastic measures, or are your fears being exaggerated by the fact that the news has to selectively report the scary stories? I would guess most areas aren’t actually as dangerous as we think they are based on the stories we hear and the news we see.
Are you creating comfort? Do attenders really feel more comfortable knowing that someone around them is a volunteer with a concealed weapons permit? Does it make them feel better to see a uniformed security officer with a glock at his hip, or does it send them into a fit of “What if he doesn’t get the bad guy before the bad guy gets me?” Sometimes the presence of a security force is intended for good, but it focuses people on the extremely slim chance that something could go wrong. And if you’re in the business of preparing people to encounter with God, this could be a distraction of no small proportions.
Are you placing your trust in God? Of course we should take natural precautions as we were given a brain for the purpose of using it, but are you going too far. Is this an area where pacifism should take over, and we should trust in God for our safety rather than our own schemes for protection? Most people would probably disagree with this, but it’s a bit tough to stomach an image of Jesus walking around with a gun holster at his hip in case someone gets into attack-mode while he’s delivering his Sermon on the Mount. And he seemed less than happy with Peter for lopping off the ear of the man who came to kill him.
A few simple questions could go a long way in helping you decide just how to protect your own church members and guests.