Yes. Safety is of the Lord, but the Bible also says we should be wise and protect ourselves.
Now is the time to take precautions to protect your children's ministry against terrorism.
Here are 10 keys to help keep your ministry as safe as possible.
#1 - Partner with local law enforcement. Contact your local law enforcement agencies and ask to be notified of any potential threats or security alerts. Provide them with a layout of your building as well so they are familiar with it in case of an emergency.
#2 - Train your staff and volunteers. They should know the procedures and guidelines for crisis situations. Have an emergency plan that includes lock down and evacuation procedures.
#3 - Have a heightened sense of awareness. Be aware of suspicious people, vehicles and containers. Approach and assist people approaching the children's ministry area that look out of place and be aware of people taking pictures.
#4 - Control access to children's ministry areas. Have a strict drop-off and pick-up security system. Only allow people with an approved security tag into your children's areas.
#5 - Lock all classroom doors once service starts. Once service starts, secure and lock all hallway and classroom doors. In addition, have an alarm set on any doors that are not supposed to be opened.
#6 - Thoroughly screen all potential volunteers. This should include a background check, personal interview and reference calls.
#7 - Build a volunteer safety and security team. This is a team that monitors the hallways and assists with safety and security matters. They should be trained thoroughly in emergency procedures. When possible, enlist people with law enforcement experience for this team.
#8 - Have a police officer present. Hire a police officer to be stationed in your children's area. The officer should be in uniform and armed. If your budget does not allow for this, ask if there are any officers in your church who will volunteer their time off-duty to do this.
#9 - Keep a detailed list of kids who are in the classrooms with emergency contact information. It is critical that every classroom has a list of the kids who are in the room and be able to reach their parents.
#10 - Have clear means of communication. Make sure each classroom has the ability to contact by radio or phone a central security area. Staff and volunteers should know who to contact in case of an emergency.
This is the world in which we find ourselves ministering. Let's be prepared.