In recent posts, we’ve discussed the issue of safety in your church design and what that entails. Security is one element of overall safety considerations, but it’s so important that it requires special attention of its own.
While we have discussed security in the children’s areas of a church building, here is a broader perspective of security issues church leaders need to consider when developing a church design or planning your new church building project. We offer this advice not as security experts but based on our extensive experience designing and building churches.
What Does Church Building Security Entail?
Security is a broad term that includes many potential threats. Some threats, such as fraud, and financial and online security breaches go beyond our scope since they do not involve church design (although they do require consideration).
Within the purview of church design, we address the following types of security threats:
Burglary is “breaking and entering,” when the church is closed and locked, for the purpose of stealing what’s inside. This is different from theft. Over the past 20 years, an average of 4,700 burglaries have occurred in American churches each year, and common items taken include audio-visual equipment and other valuable electronics.
Theft involves persons in the church taking things that do not belong to them and occurs when the church is open and occupied. Examples of this might include purses left in a meeting room or a tablet left on a desk while its owner ran down the hall to get a cup of coffee. Over the past 20 years, an average of 7,400 thefts have been reported in churches each year. This count is likely lower than the actual number, since not all thefts are reported to authorities. The average church-related theft loss is $2,000.
This is a difficult but necessary subject. Physical, sexual, verbal, and even neglect within a classroom are all examples of abuse. Churches with daycare and school programs are more likely to experience these types of security issues, which is why we have specific recommendations about the best types of windows and doors to install in your classroom wings.
Terrorism, Random Violence, and Domestic Disputes
These types of security issues are less common but still important to consider when drafting a secure church design. Domestic disputes can spill over into churches with random acts of violence, while domestic terrorists have proven in recent years that churches are not off limits from their intentional acts of violence. There are measures that church leaders can put in place to minimize the effects of these possibilities.
Thinking Ahead to Address Church Security
In upcoming posts, we will focus on these security threats and how they can be addressed in more detail. Stay tuned for those, and for an upcoming announcement of our 2020 lineup of free i3 webinars, where we address such complex issues as church security so that you can build the safest possible church building for your community.