Pastor, We Have to Talk About Our Family
by Rob Morse
A murderer walked into a Texas church. That was neither the first time, nor will it be the last time that evil men and women want to kill our brothers and sisters at church. Unfortunately, the leaders of our religious bodies are reluctant to face the issue of church security. That is true in every faith I’ve examined. Your pastor, minister, priest or rabbi all face a common problem. We live in a time of religious competition where parishioners will go somewhere else if the pastor demands too much of them.
To understand their position, think of a pastor as a spiritual workout-coach ... and we are lazy parishioners. If the congregation is still sore at at the pastor by Wednesday, then we won’t come back for more next week. That explains why so many pastors refuse to examine church security. Here is how we can help good men and women see the light.
Look at the problem from both sides of the pulpit. The congregation wants to ignore the problem of evil. Most of the congregation chooses to be defenseless in public. Only a few of them bother to protect their family at home. Most of the congregation is immediately uncomfortable if you point out their vulnerability. They want to close their eyes and sing louder so they don’t have to address their responsibility to protect the congregation.
We see a similar situation with the pastor and the church governing board. Most of them are men and women of words, not actions. They talk about evil, but few of them wrestle with evil every day. In some congregations, they will lock the shed that holds the garden equipment, but will leave the doors of the church open and unguarded when the congregation is inside. That says a lot about what they value.
We can’t blame them. Most pastors and church governing boards don’t know the questions to ask in order to think about church security.
People come with problems. Parishioners are preyed upon by both criminals and crazy people. Churches are attacked by their members and by people outside the congregation. There are no safe and sacred places; our churches are more dangerous than our schools.
The congregation is vulnerable everywhere. We see parishioners and staff victimized in the church parking lot, the daycare facility, the classrooms, kitchens, back offices, and in the chapel.
Protecting the flock at all times and places is a very demanding task. It is beyond the ability of most congregations. If we can’t protect them, then we should let the congregation protect themselves. That brings us to the meeting.
Those who choose to be defenseless in public usually advocate for being defenseless in church. They are in the majority and their point of view will win unless someone else speaks up. Fortunately, there are other points of view.
Each of us is a gift from God and each of us deserves protection. Each of us is also called upon to be a shepherd. We should protect ourself, protect our family, and protect our neighbors from harm. Love is more than what you feel and what you say. Love is what you do.
We don’t tell God to stop the rain and give us heat and light. Instead, we build a church. God also gave us the will and the means to protect each other, and we should. If your congregation doesn’t love you and your family enough to protect them, then you need to find a congregation who puts their words into action.
Church security is largely unseen and therefore easily forgotten. You’ve probably been in churches that had an extensive security effort. You were busy listening to the sermon, so you didn’t notice ... and that is a good thing. Just because you don’t notice church security doesn’t mean it isn’t there and isn’t important.
Ask your pastor and church governing board a few simple questions. You deserve an answer.
Do we have a security plan?
Are we protecting everyone on church property?
Our churches have a lot to do. We can’t blame them for not solving problems they don’t understand. Help starts with you asking a simple question.
Rob Morse works and writes in Southwest Louisiana. He writes at Ammoland, at his Slowfacts blog, and at Clash Daily. Rob co-hosts the Polite Society Podcast, and hosts the Self-Defense Gun Stories Podcast each week.