Tree of Life Synagogue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. First Baptist Church, Sutherland Springs, Texas. Emmanuel AME Church, Charleston, South Carolina. You associate those names with church shootings that have cost precious lives. There are, unfortunately, many others. From 1999 to 2015, violent acts in churches or houses of worship rose 2380%.
We are concerned about safety at Madison Christian Church. (You might be interested to know that this is not a slam dunk. I have been spoken to stridently by folks who believe we should trust the Lord and not concern ourselves with safety measures.) We respect their opinion, but we must respectfully disagree. There are measures in place so that people can worship the Lord here in a safe environment. Our elders have been and remain committed to Madison being a safe place.
There is a fine line that needs to be straddled. We want to be genuinely welcoming to those who come through our doors. We do not want to make coming to church to worship akin to getting on an airplane or entering a federal building. At the same time, we place a very high priority on keeping men, women, boys, and girls safe in this place.
I will not go into detail regarding this, but for your own peace of mind you should know that we do have a safety team. The core of that team has a background of experience and expertise and have also received excellent, multi-day training for safety specifically in a church setting. Largely, you do not even know that these people are in place – but they are – and we prefer to keep their activity low key. However, be assured that they are using both people and technology to provide safety for our congregation. Additionally, we have a great partnership with local law enforcement.
Can we improve? Always. We have contracted with Strategos International, (www.strategosintl.com) a well-regarded church security firm to work with our safety team. I choose not to announce the dates, but Strategos International will be on campus soon to conduct a four-day on-site risk assessment and training that will only serve to make us stronger in this important area.
Oliver Cromwell told his troops: “Trust God, but keep your powder dry.” This is our church safety objective at Madison Christian Church. We absolutely trust the Lord. And we absolutely will continue to have measures in place to promote safety.