By Vaughn Baker
President, Strategos International
An Ohio television station recently aired an intriguing report called “Pastors Packing Heat.” You can watch it below.
We’re not in a position to comment on the particular churches featured in this report: We simply don’t have enough information. We also realize that several hours of work goes into a segment that might last three minutes, so we don’t know what might have been left out.
With that said, the report as featured could leave the impression that a Wild West approach is what is required to face the threat of church violence. According to the story, one pastor interviewed said he “absolutely” recommends that other pastors carry guns.
Although last year set a record for the number of violent incidents (250+) at churches, this must be put into the context that there are nearly 400,000 churches in the United States.
Firearms can have a place in church security. But they are not an end-all, be-all solution. Churches with excellent security ministries may chose to have, or not to have, armed security.
The first and biggest step to increasing church security does not include guns. The number one priority is educating ushers, greeters, deacons, elders and staff on awareness. This includes learning what suspicious activity looks like and how to respond to behavior that is out of the ordinary. With this approach, numerous threats have been de-escalated without a single shot – or even a raised voice.
Armed personnel who lack comprehensive and strategic security training actually increase risk in churches.
Our counsel: Prepare. Study. Get training. Be vigilant. But don’t be risky or reckless. The stakes are too high.