What would you do if there was an active shooter in your church? In light of recent church shootings, have you wondered what you would do if something like this happened in your church? If you’re like me, you’ve thought about it — a lot.
Earlier this year I took a self-defense class that was taught by Mike Gillette, whose impressive list of clients includes elite military and the Department of Homeland Security. When I asked him about church security, he discussed the need for situational awareness, and then made a statement that was scary but true: bad guys don’t expect churches or schools to resist or fight back. In other words, churches are considered easy targets. Church people are nice, right?
If We Can’t Escape, We Fight
Similarly, our ministry team invited a local officer to one of our monthly team meetings. This officer spoke to us about active shooters, and what to do if an active shooter was in the building. Most interestingly, this officer suggested that if we couldn’t escape, then we FIGHT.
We’d fight with whatever we have on hand or nearby. It may sound extreme to you, but be ready to swing a chair, stab with a pen, gouge eyes, jump on his back… you get the picture. Be mentally ready to fight for your life. And not just you, but all leadership — perhaps even all the adults — need to be ready to react swiftly and powerfully. Resolve that God is the giver of life, and we may need to protect against the senseless loss of life.
I’m thankful we live in a state where obtaining a concealed carry permit is an option for our parishioners. My husband and I both have our permits, and I know several others in our church do as well. Is this an option for you? Would you feel comfortable carrying? Could you do it carefully and responsibly? Would you make time to practice regularly?
Church Security As A Ministry Opportunity
Does your church have a security team in place? Is this something you’d like to be a part of? This could be an invaluable ministry within your church, if someone were willing to prayerfully lead it (with your pastor’s blessing, of course).
These are the things they didn’t teach us in Bible college or seminary, but should be considered in today’s day and age.
You may want to discuss it with your church leadership. Do it with grace. Be patient with your pastor. These are uncharted times, and security of this magnitude is new for most pastors to consider. They are already under the weight of day-to-day ministry and may need you to quietly help them along this process.
In my personal experience, I’ve never met a pastor who wasn’t willing to sacrifice for his flock. He takes your care and safety to heart, but is often pulled by the more immediate demands of ministry. Be ready to be an Aaron and help lift his hands to do this work, however small or large your part may be. Give him/her some time to pray about what is appropriate for your church.
Don’t be afraid to have a plan. Proper preparation helps alleviate fear. God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). Remember, we hope for the best, but having a preparedness plan in place is empowering, minimizes fear, and enables us to react with a sound mind and clear thinking.
What Should I Say To My Kids? Things To Consider
Kids need to know how to obey! If your child struggles in this area (and most kids do) then you need to sit down and have a heart-to-heart talk with them about dangerous situations.
Give them a code word for danger, like “emergency” or “hide” and teach them how you want them to respond when you say that word.
Teach them what to do if someone shouts “get down” — and explain this will probably never happen, but we’ll practice it just in case. It’s like a fire drill; hopefully we never have a fire, but we still practice what we would do if we did.
Teach them to get out of a dangerous situation if they can. Show them where the church exits are… what exit is closest to where we sit in the sanctuary? What exit is closest to their Sunday School room?
Teach them how you’d like them to respond if they can’t escape. You may want them to hide. Where would they hide? What would be their next step?
If Nothing Else, At The Very Least…
Talk to your local law enforcement. Ours has been amazing and always willing to answer questions. How would they prefer you react in an active shooter situation? How are your local police units prepared to respond? Each community may have different expectations. Be aware of them.
Keep in mind, this is a controversial topic, even within the Body of Christ. Be kind and considerate, and know that different Christians may have a different views than you or I do. There’s room in the church for all of us, even if/when we don’t agree. Isn’t it amazing how creative our God is?
Have something you’d like to add? Feel free to respectfully share resources in the comments.
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Go in grace today,