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8 Ways to Keep Your Church Safe

Sometimes as churches we find ourselves so focused on the next set of sermons, growing the church in number of attendees, growing the giving in the church, missions, connecting, etc that we forget the obligations of keeping our members safe both physically in body and electronically with sensitive information. It's important to remember that you have a collection of people that can be targeted by those who seek to do wrong.

There are really two ways you should be looking out for your church. Number one is physically in body. There have been church shootings and it's important to learn ways to protect your congregation. Number two is protecting your congregation's sensitive information. Information is powerful and you don't want your church members' sensitive information to fall into wrong hands. We hope you can learn some ideas on how to accomplish a safe church below!

1) Keeping Children Safe

It may seem obvious to most people to only let children leave with their parents. However, picking up kids from childrens church can be busy filled with parents rushing to pick up their kids to go to their next calendar item for the day, changed plans of parents designating someone else to grab their children, volunteers letting the children go and find their parents in the crowded church, etc. The best practices to keeping the children safe in the church is to have a child check-in system. Child Check In systems are great because they allow a parent or designated adult to check in the child and have a pick up sticker. There is no guessing involved for volunteers on whom is registered in the system as a safe adult the child can leave with. Check out Child Check-In as a Feature of Mission Pillars CRM and Church Management Systems.

2) Have an Evacuation Plan and Training

Remember how we teach and practice with our children the old familiar, 'Stop, Drop, and Roll'? The same rings true about natural disasters and shootings. Talk with your local law enforcements about having a good plan in place for a shooting or natural disaster. Create a one page step by step and train your main staff on the policy and procedure you have worked out with professionals. Have a form of communication that can be sent by text or email for cancellations of bad weather or other threats. Be prepared.

3) Keep Doors Locked

It's important to keep doors locked during services. Have a designated trustworthy adult stand near the door to check for any late comers. Have the doors open before and slightly after the services start, but no during. It's important to let your congregation know if you start this new policy so they understand when they can freely enter without having to have someone open the door for them.

4) Attend Safety Seminars

It's important that your staff is trained on body language. This is a common practice with law enforcement. If you can learn how to tell if something is not right with a person that has entered your church you can be prepared.

5) Don't Assume Be Proactive

Don't assume that your members would never or could never create a disaster. You should be proactive. Maybe you can dedicate a sermon on depression or unhealthy thoughts. Maybe you can have references, pamphlets, etc where members can get the help they need when they are facing mental instability, depression, anger, etc. It's important to give your members tools, to guide them, and provide resources. There may be members in your church battling quietly within their minds.

6) Have Cameras Outside your Building

This is a great warning that you are prepared. This is also a great way for a designated adult to view late comers or potential threats that are coming up to the door.

Protecting Your Church's Information

Now the above have been great examples of keeping your church physically safe, but what about keeping your church member's identity and information safe? Below, we have compiled a list of practices you should keep in place to keep your church member's information safe.

7) Have Secure Ways of Online Giving

This is very important because we are our virtual identity. Online giving for churches has grown which means information such as credit card numbers are being used at your church. Do you work we a secure online giving provider who is PCI compliant? Are the donation forms you are using PCI compliant? Online giving software for your church that is safe and secure is just as important as how easy the software is to use. Hackers are always looking for ways to steal unsuspecting individuals credit card numbers. Keep your donors safe by offering secure online giving for your church.

8) Allow Only who need Access, Access to Information

Very important. Not everyone that has access to your CRM, internet, records, etc. should have that access. Don't leave passwords and logins out in the open and for general use. Change up passwords every couple weeks. When an admin leaves do not allow them access to your systems. Terminate old logins. We worked with a church that had given a missionary permission to use the churches bank account to deposit funds into. In so many words that missionary took that churches information and signed them up services which cost that church hundreds in fees and this was never an agreed upon process for the missionary. The missionary had two much access to information.

It's important to make a mental note of who has access to what information and why do they have that access. Information is powerful and should be protected. Information can come in all sorts of ways such as emails, home address of church members, phone numbers, church banking, voided checks, etc.

Let's Wrap it Up

Being a church is such a great and rewarding job as you follow God's calling. No matter the size of your church you have a responsibility to keep your church safe and follow best practices. We hope the above tips have inspired you to take some steps in your church to keep your congregation safe!

Now it's your turn. Do you have any tips, suggestions, or experiences you would be willing to share? Comment below:

Posted on: 01/29/2018
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