“We left our former church, in part, because they had a security team with guns!” I was told. I respected their decision and them for following their convictions. The only problem was, we had a security team with men and women carrying guns; they’re just not an “in your face” cowboy type of team. So, just what is it with churches thinking they have to assemble a security team? Is it anti-biblical? Is it anti-peace? Aren’t we supposed to trust God for protection? Church isn’t a right place for guns, is it? Isn’t having guns in church kind of a radical right-wing, crazy thing?
You know, as a Sr. Pastor, I wish I didn’t even have to deal with this topic in our church…at all! The problem is that violence in churches is becoming all too common; much more than it was a decade ago. Due to being a Law Enforcement Chaplain, we have a number of LE officers who are church members. They aren’t cowboys either. They are, however, sworn peace officers; those who have taken an oath to uphold the law and protect citizens. I deeply appreciate them and value their input on such issues as safety in our congregation.
I believe in the sovereignty of the local church and would never impose my conviction on another assembly. However, there are many churches facing the same dilemma regarding building a safety team. Should we, or shouldn’t we? Should we allow concealed carry or not? I’ll share a bit about our journey and whether or not you agree with our decision, it is up to you to decide for the church you pastor.
Thou Shalt Not Kill
The 6th commandment is very clear in that is says, “Thou shalt not kill” except it doesn’t say that. The Hebrew is clearer in its meaning which is, “You shall not murder.” There is a distinct difference. Murder would be the taking of a life for an immoral or selfish motivation. Intervening or killing, on the other hand, as a last resort, if a life were on the line, from what I glean from Jewish commentaries, would almost be required as life is of inestimable value. Personally, I would NEVER ever want to take a life! I would not want to live with the emotional trauma of knowing that I snuffed out a life made in the image of God. However, I believe there is something even worse than that to live with, and that is seeing a life taken when I may have been able to stop it but chose not to.
See No Evil
I brought this issue to our church as I was giving them a heads up about tightening up our security measures in our children’s area. I apologized for even having to talk about it during church. I told them we had a security team trained by Law Enforcement firearms instructors. I told them that I wished we didn’t have to address such issues in church. I then told them there was only one thing worse than wishing we didn’t have to talk about such things and that would be explaining to them, after an active shooter incident with casualties, why we didn’t, when we could have proactively developed a plan in case such an incident took place. I wish our world was more peaceful. I wish there wasn’t evil and anger abounding. I wish churches remained the true sanctuaries or safe places that they used to be and were considered holy in that even criminals, for the most part, wouldn’t commit crimes there. The reality is that it IS happening in our midst and people are being killed by gunmen in our churches. Sticking my pastoral head in the sand won’t make them go away. A killer may never darken the door of our church and honestly, the “odds” may even be in our favor…until they aren’t. When wolves roam looking for sheep, we need sheepdogs to protect the flock. I wish we didn’t have a need for a security team. In the latest church shooting in Texas, a trained security team member neutralized the shooter in 3 seconds! How long do you think it would have taken Officers to arrive at the church? How many more lives could have been taken had they waited? Thank God for a sheepdog who was prepared to face down a wolf, and did.
What’s Your Need?
Does your church need a trained security team? Pastor, that’s your call or your Board’s call. If you choose to do so, I suggest you do so after consulting your insurance company for guidance. And I also suggest that you employ the assistance of Law Enforcement to train your team for the worst possible thing that can happen in a church. Being a Law Enforcement Chaplain for over a decade gives me a unique perspective on this issue. I see evil far too many times and to think that it couldn’t happen in the church I am privileged to pastor, is extremely naïve. I don’t want our church to react. I want it to act appropriately and proactively. Most people who attend our church wouldn’t know who our security team is but they know they’re there. I like it that way. They’re the sheepdogs in the field with the sheep. They’re just like us….until the wolf shows up growling. I pity the wolf for two reasons. #1. The wolf has lost its way and needs delivered from evil. #2. The wolf is about to find out why God made sheepdogs!