As any good preacher knows, sometimes you got to step on peoples toes. Well, this edition of Foreman’s Forum, just might step on some. No offense is meant and I do hope none is taken. Please get upset with the message and NOT the messenger. I have been told, “Paul, you are an EXHORTER”. A long time ago I looked that up. Dictionary.com says: 1. To urge, advise, or caution earnestly, admonish urgently. 2. To give urgent advice, recommendations or warnings. So with that, I exhort you who attend church, and especially pastors, priests, Rabbis and church administrators to take note. I truly believe that there is a war on Christianity. In fact, it’s nothing new!
For this article, I will not even attempt to cover the genocide going on against Christians in the Middle East. Right here in America, and even right here in Alabama, there have been crimes even murders committed in church on Sunday mornings. Some might say, “Hold up there, back up the truck. You are going to make people afraid to go to church!” Not so, I want to see as many as possible attending church or synagogue on Sundays. I drove past the bank today, you know, the one which got robbed a couple of weeks ago. There were plenty of cars in the parking lot, people coming and going in and out of the bank. There sure did not seem to be any shortage of customers even after the robbery.
I have had a number of experiences setting up and getting church security ministries operational. Two different church administrations asked me to take on the task, and I commend them for their foresight and desire to maintain a safe environment for their attendees. We got organized and set schedules so that the volunteers would only need to serve once every 4-5 weeks. I knew I did not want to be a security guard and miss church every Sunday. We were given radios and I held training classes so the volunteers would know what was expected of them and especially what their limitations were. I called it the “Prime Directive”. OBSERVE, DETER and REPORT. I assigned men to watch over the children’s areas, entrances, and parking lots. They were instructed to keep a low profile. The security team was to look and act like a welcome team of greeters, not guards. Procedures were set in place to especially safeguard the nursery and pre-school age. Children were signed in by a parent and then only that parent was allowed to pick them up after church. There is not room here to cover the dozens of abduction cases I read about occurring across the country. Just a few of these attempted abductions, were by both strangers and non-custodial parents. I told the volunteer security team, “You might never know what dangerous event you prevented just by being there, standing by the entrance of the nursery area.
One case I will mention. A twenty something women with obvious mental issues, went into a church nursery telling the staff she was there to pick up little Johnny. The staff refused to give up little Johnny and escorted her from the building. Local police were given a description of her and her car and the car’s tag number. A few minutes later she tried again at another church, but got the same reaction. At the third church, she just walked right in, picked up a little one year old boy and left. Minutes later as the real mother arrived they realized the horror of what had just happened. But, due to the well trained nursery staff and the security teams at the two previous churches police rescued the child fifteen minutes after the abduction occurred. They already had a description of the perpetrator and her car.
Even after stories like this, we had some opposition from some church members. I would get comments like, “Don’t you believe God will protect us?” There is a very “real to life” tale of a flood victim who should have been saved. Rescue personnel were sent to evacuate people from their homes as the flood waters rose. One man refused to leave his home, saying, “God will take care of me.” As the waters rose, he retreated to the 2nd floor, then the attic, then the roof. Rescue personnel came by in a boat and tried to coax him into leaving. Then a helicopter was sent. Each time he refused rescue, saying, “God will take care of me.” Well, the man drowned and went to heaven. St Peter met him at the pearly gates. The man asked St.Peter, “What happened, I thought God would save me from the flood waters.” St. Peter looked at the man and just shook his head, saying, “We did try to save you. We sent an evacuation team. We sent a boat and a helicopter. You refused our help each time!”
Just this month in Idaho, a pastor was shot in the back as he came out of church. Pastors have been killed by ex-husbands and jealous boyfriends. Members of the choir have returned to the choir practice room to discover all the women’s purses missing or pilfered. Deacons have been accosted in a back hall as they took the Sunday’s offering plates to an office. Cars have been burglarized during church services. How long do we wait before some terrorist walks into a church service, here in America? Should you consider an armed volunteer security team? If you consider arming your security team, PLEASE, get them trained properly. Being able to shoot and hit a target at seven or ten yards is not what I am talking about. Knowing when and when not to shoot is even more important. Have you consulted with your local Chief or Sheriff who could provide off duty officers to provide security?
Pastors and church administrators; I exhort you; please take steps to make your church and your members safer and more secure.