Church Safety Plan Survey Raises More Questions

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First Baptist Church at Sutherland Springs, Texas. (FB Photo)

Since the church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, where nine members were murdered on June 17, 2015, two other U.S. churches have now been subjected to the same act of violence. In Antioch, Tennessee, on September 24, 2017, one member was left dead and seven others wounded. On Sunday, 26 people from 18 months to 77 years old were killed at Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. With each church shooting, the public expresses concerns about safety in their places of worship. Some within congregations grapple with whether they should have a safety plan in place or not. Ultimately, those in leadership positions have to decide what is best for the congregation, but members also have to also decide what is best for their families and act accordingly. In a survey conducted through SurveyMonkey.com, 100 people responded to two questions. The first question was, “Does your place of worship have a safety plan in place in the event of an active shooter?” The second question was, “Do you believe it is important for places of worship to have a safety plan in place?” The response to the first question was as follows (Note: One participant skipped Question 1):

 

Yes
32.32%
32

No
37.37%
37

I don’t know
30.30%
30
TOTAL 99

For survey question one, we see that 67.67% of participants either do not have a plan in place at their places of worship or do not know if there is a plan in place at their places of worship. This makes the results from survey question two even more interesting. Out of 100 participants, the results of question two are as follows:

Yes
97.00%
97

No
3.00%
3
TOTAL 100

Looking at the response to question two, we see that 97% of participants feel that having a safety plan in place is important. What is interesting is that while only 32.32% of participants have a safety plan in place at their places of worship, 97% of all participants feel that it is important. One explanation of this disparity could be communication from members to leadership. Church leaders need to discuss openly with members when it comes to their position on having a safety plan. Members need to be free to discuss with leaders their concerns when it comes to having a safety plan in place. As you can see, there are three participants who say that having a safety plan in place is not important. It is important to note that those three participants attend places of worship who do not have a safety plan in place. Having a safety plan or not having a safety plan is a decision that each congregation has to make.

Locking doors, having a watchman, and having section leaders who are ready, willing, and able to get people to the exits are a few of the many issues that need to be addressed. It may not be comfortable to talk about, but it has now become necessary even in a place where people should feel safe. The bottom line is that members and leaders need to communicate and come up with a consensus on the issue of having a safety plan in place. Of course, this is not all about members. There are children depending on adults to keep them safe. While they have no input in what type of safety plan is put into place at your place of worship, you do.

If no one is saying anything about having a plan at your place of worship, you can make a difference by speaking up. From looking at the survey, you’ll only be saying what others are thinking, so go ahead and say it. You might be saving lives.

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