As churches move to increase security measures, Kevin Atkinson, pastor at New Life Church (NLC), and Todd Martin, children’s minister at Downtown Church of Christ (Downtown), both agree that safety of their members, guests and children has been top of their priorities list since day one.
“Because of the recent violent events in churches, I have found it to be very beneficial and very fulfilling to me as a leader to know that we have trusted security measures in place,” Atkinson said.
Martin said that at Downtown the focus is to keep churchgoers safe by making sure areas are secure before dangerous situations present themselves.
“We want to be preventative and proactive in our planning and security,” Martin said. “If we don’t put something like this in place, we hold ourselves liable. We want to make sure that when the kids and members come into our facilities, they are safe.”
According to Martin, the Downtown security team has 30 cameras in place that feed to a monitor in the church offices and the main security office. The security office has trained individuals who monitor the cameras and listen to police and fire department scanners. They also monitor weather conditions and radar and have access to the public address system to make an announcement to the entire church facility.
At NLC, a trained security director heads up the security team, according to Atkinson. In any given service, the members of the security team can be found in the parking lot, sanctuary and children’s ministry areas.
“Security has always been a part of NLC,” Atkinson said. “That was important to us on the front end — for our people to feel safe and our parents to feel safe about their children.”
Atkinson said security members in the sanctuary are in charge of alerting him of a situation during service, and security members in the children’s ministry areas are charged with the safety of the kids during services and upon leaving.
“Our security members have certain standards they have to meet,” Atkinson said. “We do allow concealed handgun carry if they have gone through the proper training and have their license. We identify the security team based on their lanyards and we have special indicators for those with concealed weapons. They also have an earpiece so they are in constant contact with staff.”
Freshman Hannah Reed attends NLC and said she feels completely safe during their church services.
“I’ve never felt unsafe at New Life during service,” Reed said. “The security team is always present and visible so I know I’m being protected and kept safe.”
Both NLC and Downtown also have security operations and policies in place for their children’s ministries.
According to Atkinson, NLC enforces a check-in, checkout procedure for children in their Sunday morning Kid Life and Little Life ministries.
For Downtown’s daily children education and ministry programs, Martin said all teachers must complete an extensive application and background check. In addition, all classrooms must have windows and at least two teachers.
Atkinson and Martin said that while they hope that no security incident occurs in their churches, they are prepared and have policies in place to ensure the safety of their members in any event.