Questions Concerning Church Security Details

Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.

Luke 22:36

templars.jpgIt’s a sad reality that I have to write this, but I am heartened by the fact that people are asking these questions. We live in an age of Christian persecution, whether some wish to admit it or not, and that persecution has led to our Churches and gatherings becoming easy targets. The paradigm shift from simple castigation and stigma to legal discrimination has slid, predictably, to violence amid a society where nothing is deemed Holy.

Whether its a calm and collected shooter motivated by hate or a bomber or truck driver ramming a crowd motivated by the Hadith, Christians have a moral obligation to protect one another during these times. I seek to remind you that to the Saracen, the Crusades never ended and with the recognition of Jerusalem (that they call al Quds) as the capital of Israel, we are very likely to see violence increase in many areas. Do not fall into the trap of saying it can’t happen to you.

Your Pastor or Priest may abhor the idea of armed laity in the congregation. The congregation itself may be leery of the idea. And I completely understand that our Sanctuaries should be the last place one would invite violence and so should you. But simultaneously persons of faith should recognize and point out to others that over the past year the pattern of violence has steadily increased and sadly will likely continue to do so.  As we approach Christmas and before we know it, Easter, our gatherings will be prime targets. I feel that protection of our Churches and people is an absolute requirement and a moral obligation imposed upon us by our Faith, no different than that of the Templars protecting pilgrims to the Holy Land and Warrior Clergy defending their parishes in the Middle Ages to the present day Chaplain Corps.

That said, I was presented with the following question:

I’m on my Church’s security detail and comms are pretty relaxed and there is no real protocol in place. Can you give me some pointers, etc?

This is a much deeper topic than it appears. My first answer was centered around recommending equipment and building a local community network for the congregation, all things I’ve previously covered in this blog. But that’s not what was being asked. The equipment is already there as they’re avid readers of the blog; there’s licensed folks and first responders among the congregation- the question is what to do with what they have. So my second answer is this:

KISS (keep it simple, silly):
  1.  Callsigns should be associated with location in church, not the name of the member. This will eliminate the “hey, Tom, where are you currently?” questions. In any security detail, just as I would assign Light Infantry Team members to sectors of watch in a static security position, PSD group members are given sectors of fire or “areas of responsibility” with the principle, in this case the congregation, the center. So Tom and Jeff would be main entrance, Steve and Mike would be Altar, Will and Luke the side entrances, etc. Not only does this eliminate any question of where or what a member is covering or doing but this also serves a rapid intelligence reporting purpose- if contact (an active shooter) happens, by that callsign you’ll know where it’s happening. The person in charge of the detail, what we would should the Sergeant of the Guard, is the roamer checking the others. His callsign can be anything, but SOG has always been appropriate.
  2. Have a PACE plan. Primary, Alternate, Contingency, Emergency frequencies. Four separate channels in case one gets jammed or otherwise doesn’t work. When you program your Church PSD radios, ONLY program those four. That way under stress there’s only four options.
  3. Practice, Practice, Practice. If y’all have Sunday School and/or Men’s & Women’s breakfasts prior to service, the members of the PSD need to run their commo drills during this time. You should ALWAYS conduct radio checks prior to the service. Take a couple of Sundays doing it early, walking through getting into your positions and using those location callsigns versus just saying each other’s names over your network. The more you do this, the fewer bad habits you’ll keep.
I also recommend at least once a week, maybe before the Wednesday service if y’all have one, running through an active shooter drill by simply physically securing each location. When you do this, each member responsible for that location would radio in “Main Entrance, Secure” or “Sanctuary, Secure”. I don’t suggest using color or 10-codes or some of the other phrases you might see used elsewhere, because during the chaos of a gunfight that gets confusing. The objective is to keep it as very basic as possible, and that means using the locations of the members as the callsigns itself.


Bishop_thomasAbove all else, understand it takes a team. One armed defender is great. Two armed defenders is excellent. Two armed defenders who’ve never trained with one another, just got their CCW and called it a day, are just untrained guys with a gun and possibly as dangerous to the congregation as an active shooter. Simply being armed my feel like a deterrent but it is not enough. You have to coordinate, you have to actively train, and yes, that includes walking through drills inside the Church. Keep it simple. But on the upside, I can’t think of a better way to get closer to your fellow faithful, build those communal bonds, and deepen your own faith in the process.

We do these things not out of hate or fear but love.

21 thoughts on “Questions Concerning Church Security Details

  1. I go to a very large church. I live over an hour away from the church so I am not there nearly as much as I used to be, not enough to be a useful member of any security team. Maybe I should get with a smaller church in my little town. Anyway…

    However, my background in intelligence (and some slight boredom with time to burn) led me to do my own walkthrough casing/recon of the entire building one Sunday before/between/after services (we have two on Sunday mornings because the crowd is too large). Also, through some local contacts, I learned that my church has a talent pool to draw from that includes former Presidential protection secret service team members and former Rangers, former SF members and former police. Also, we have four State Troopers that direct traffic after services who sit inside the entrances when traffic isn’t moving in and out. The Pastor himself has his own discreet protection detail which I noticed by their behavior, but I must admit they were doing a decent job of staying discreet. I believe it’s at least three people with earpieces following him at varying distances.

    That’s just some stuff I noticed about the place I go. I’m genuinely curious now about the security arrangements at my local churches.

  2. That’s pretty much what we did a few years ago here. Everyone practiced what they were supposed to do, used their radios during practice sessions and everyone had weekly range time together so that the more experienced shooters could help those with less experience.

  3. Interesting read and timely.

    At the church I attend all members are encouraged to CCW while in the church. Once services begin on Sunday all entrances are locked and manned by one member carrying.

    Bible study nights once everybody is present the doors are locked however not manned.

    Why is this timely for our church – We have no standard SOP’s written let alone followed; Consequently, I can see friendly casualties happening during a drama.

    I will pass your timely article to my Pastor.
    Thank you Brother!

  4. Cavguy

    My church is the largest around and a prime target. Yet the staff are clowns and do not take this topic to heart. The pastor brushes the topic off to a navy guy who’s wife is is the admin office. He is clueless to forming a team or an SOP. The guts that greet at the doors have no comms and most don’t carry. Those that do carry there is no coordination if fire. If something bad happens gunna be rounds going everywhere.
    Wife and I sit near a side exit that leads to a parking area, we park there vehicle pointing away and ready to go. She splits I stay and fight if needed. I practice at home for the engagement distances expected inside the building. It’s a big place too.
    Going to pass this along to some at church.

  5. Pingback: Brushbeater: Questions Concerning Church Security Details (Comms) – Lower Valley Assembly

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  7. Andrew

    In Ohio, one may not be “armed” without written pastoral permission.
    It’s enough to discourage one from organized religion.

    1. Perhaps, or rather connect with a Pastor or Priest who recognizes the possible peril. Increasingly as time presses on including the events of this morning, that argument is made more and more clear.

      Calm and rational pointers, not appearing like a wild-eyed fringe type when making such a suggestion, also goes a long way.

  8. Chuck Noname

    I can definitely connect with those who are frustrated with the lack of planning, prep and overall poor attitude exhibited by some congregations based on the above comments. So many denominations have allowed the obscene face of pacifism (almost group suicide) to permeate not only their everyday worship and church activities, but to institutionalize itself in their very core beliefs. Many denominations once considered “conservative” and “traditional” are now “progressive” and “moderate”. Once my wife and I saw that mindset infecting our once Conservative, traditional LCMS church, and a new Pastor arrived pushing a ” Liberation Theology” message of basic socialism, pacifistic B.S. – we left. As much as we wanted to stay due to the many friends we cared about, our spiritual selves and a sense of responsibility – we just could not be hypocrites. A good number of the parishioners had also became “zealots” about constantly emphasizing how uncomfortable they were around anyone who was a CCH license holder. I was and still am a CCH instructor for the state, as well as being a 20 year retired Veteran, Army SF- and that REALLY made them squirm. So, we decided to leave and not go back. I still pray for those folks, and sincerely hope the current Pastor and some of the elders decide to leave in the near future – but I am NOT holding my breath. I strongly believe the days of proud, Christian Warriors standing firm to protect our fellow believers, our citizens and our way of life are becoming fewer and fewer. The disease of pacifism and a lack of conviction has spread far and wide.

  9. The church I use to attend was full of hypocrites, ER off duty cops. That’s why I move the family to a little tiny funky church closer to home. Amusing place,,while their up doing the holy holy poky, with their arms in the air, it’s easy to see the majority are armed. Good on them.

    Good article, and needs to be taken seriously.


  10. Darrell Cloud

    I had this conversation with one of our deacons. Several of us carry and the church has hired a deputy to guard the late service. We have no training and we do not even have an alert system or a way to alert the congregation should an active shooter come on to church grounds. My greatest fear and the thing that would cause me to hesitate is my absolute terror of the possibility of shooting an innocent. It is my fervent prayer that this never happens to us, but I will continue to carry because something is better than nothing.

    After the Columbine shooting, my school hosted a live shooting exercise with teachers from area schools playing the part of students. Two plain clothes men played the part of active shooters. They were shooting revolvers and firing blanks. We were informed of the rules of how the game was supposed to be played. If you were shot you were supposed stay in place until the exercise was finished. We were not told when or how the exercise would unfold but we were informed of the drill while they locked the gates.

    The active shooters began their spree during class changes. The first person they shot was the school resource officer. From there they worked through the population. About ten minutes into the exercise, I was killed in the breezeway between the gym and the lunchroom. The one thing I learned is that active shooters have tunnel vision. People tend to get down when shots are fired giving you a clear field of fire. Had I been armed, I could have killed both of them.

  11. Deplorable B Woodman

    At my Local Worldwide Church (in SLC), the Main Leadership has (last I heard or was told) said, “No Guns”. And so far, so good. But…………..and I worry about that “but”. I’m ready to start carrying concealed anyway. But it would be a struggle getting others together to form a coordinated team. (sigh). I will do the best I can with what I have, even if (God forbid) something happens, I react, and am subsequently ex-communicated.

  12. MT

    Here are some resources for church security training. More than one of them do talks/training around the country and not just in their contact location.

    Force Dynamics: Church Training
    Sheepdog Seminars: Church Safety Seminars
    Principle Defense Systems: Security Team Tactics training
    Carl Chinn: Church Security

  13. Radio Free Redoubt recently did an interview with a guy who does church security training. I would encourage everyone to look it up. Also check out their Underground Church series. Our brothers and sisters need to understand that sanctuary doesn’t mean a place free from violence. Or a holy place, for that matter. It means a safe place, which is what our churches should strive to be for everyone in the community, if possible. This goes way beyond security, but security is the FIRST step toward providing sanctuary. As far as locations go, someone needs to be in the parking lot at all times during a service. If someone is coming to do harm, it is likely in today’s age they will be bringing a long gun to do that harm. Someone in the parking lot, discreetly watching the entrance can end a fight before it begins. There should also be layers of security in the foyer, all side and back entrances, the hallways outside of any classrooms in session, and of course in the main sanctuary as well. As in retreat defense, we don’t want to fight them in our living room if we can detect and stop them before they ever get to it. Comms leads to cooperation, cooperation leads to teamwork. Teamwork requires training of both comms and cooperation. As far as taking sanctuary to a higher level, how many churches in your area have plans for caring for refugees in the event of natural or man-made disaster? Do you have blankets and/or cots for refugees (both members and non-members)? Do you have teams training in basic first aid? Does the church have a store of first aid supplies? Do you have the ability to feed large groups of people with long term storable food that the church actually has in stock on site? Have you planned for water supply? I’m not talking about providing for a long term disaster. We can do much for a community just providing the basics for the short term, possibly to refugees. Doing so would make the church a valued asset to the community as a whole. So many churches today either don’t bother to try to reach the lost, or think that preaching to them is the answer. Jesus often won people over by his actions as much as his words, meeting their needs where they were. We will have many opportunities in the future to reach our communities by being a resource to meet their needs, and we will at the same time have a plan for meeting the needs of our congregation as well in hard times. Sadly I see few churches preparing for such a calling, but those who do will reap a great harvest of souls. For those of you who attend mega churches far away from home, as in comms, prepping, and everything else, keep it local. Pray about finding a church in your community that needs your skills and mindset, because when TSHTF you’re unlikely to be traveling an hour to get to church, but you just may hook up with the one down the street. Wouldn’t it be something if that church could provide sanctuary to your neighbors so they don’t have to knock your door down to find food? Wouldn’t it be nice to know who nearby has the skills, mindset, training, and spiritual integrity in your neighborhood? Find a church in your community that can be a cornerstone of your preps and join it.

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