Nearly 120 violent deaths occurred at faith-based organizations in 2017—making it the most violent year for religious institutions in U.S. history.

When we think about faith-based organizations, we should picture a peaceful group of people gathered for prayer and reflection. Unfortunately, with so many violent church incidents reported within the last year, church security and safety has become a growing concern for parishioners across the nation.

To prepare for the worst case scenario, we’ve listed four ways to share safety information with your congregation and some security considerations to protect your place of worship.

1. Include Safety Tips in Weekly Bulletins

Many faith-based institutions hand out weekly bulletins before service. Why not add a safety tips and procedures section to prevent violence? Everyone who joins the service will have a bulletin with guidelines on what to do in case of an emergency. Consider including the following information:

  • Emergency numbers for local fire/police departments, poison control and nearby hospitals.
  • Evacuation routes and procedures.
  • A map of the facility with highlighted exits.
  • Appointed church safety leaders and their roles.

Additionally, include information around other church security resources, like links to your website and social media accounts.

2. Make Safety Information Available on Your Website

If your church has a website, you should have safety and security resources available for your congregation. Not only is your website an easy way to disseminate information, but it also acts as a library where you can store everything from action plans to emergency numbers.

3. Invite Police to Speak at Monthly Seminars

Oftentimes, faith-based organizations will hold regular seminars or meetings to discuss relevant topics within the congregation. To educate parishioners on safety and church security, consider inviting members of your local police department.

This is an effective way to learn self-defense as well as how to handle an emergency. Police officers are trained professionals. What better way to teach your organization than bringing in an expert?

4. Install Security Equipment

To further prevent crime and violence from impacting your congregation, consider installing a security system. Equipment like cameras, alarms and access control systems can help minimize—if not prevent—threats to your congregation.

Place your equipment appropriately to avoid violating privacy laws and always work with a trusted vendor for proper installation.