Protect Your Ministry’s Property—and People

(Originally published as an article within ECCU’s former e-publication, Ministry Banking Today.)

Ministry leaders generally take a holistic view of stewardship. They seek to manage finances well, track their time accurately, and use their gifts appropriately. One area, though, that is often overlooked is security.

Recently, 27 leaders representing 14 churches and ministries attended the Orange County (California) chapter meeting of the National Association of Church Business Administration (NACBA) to discuss the topic of security for churches. A panel of experts answered a variety of questions on this timely topic. The panel included Alan Weisenberger, vice president of technology services for ECCU; Kevin Robertson, safety and security manager for Saddleback Church; and Terry Terrell, operations manager for Mariners Church.

What's the best way to set up a security team?

Kevin: If you don't have a security team or a plan in place, start by identifying members of your own congregation who are currently (or even formerly) in law enforcement. See if they'd be willing to be on a team to monitor activities at your facility. Another great thing to do is contact your local law enforcement agency. They're usually happy to come out, assess your risks, and make recommendations.

Who should be on a security team?

Terry: Each church has different needs. We have a volunteer team of 15 to 20 people who look for trends or situations that seem out of place before, during, and after services. We also have a great relationship with the city of Irvine Police Department.

What about getting buy-in from church leaders or staff?

Alan: A good starting point is to make them aware of the needs. It's important to create a culture of security.

Kevin: Absolutely. Awareness is key. I know it sounds simple, but your staff needs to remember to lock doors. Criminals think churches are easy marks because they often are. This concern also includes the collection of funds. Your staff can't leave cash sitting in a wicker basket.

Alan: It's the same with information or data security. We can put in all kinds of firewalls and virus protection, but if the staff is surfing the web and not paying attention to where they're going, they risk pulling in all kinds of potentially dangerous things. The adage is "Loose clicks sink ships." Be aware and minimize risks.

Kevin: Do you want to know the best way to get buy-in? Tell them having a security team and a plan in place protects the children. That usually puts things in perspective.

Security may not be the first thing you think of as you steward God’s resources, but it’s a critical issue. Even small steps, like setting up a team or talking with your local law enforcement agency, will go a long way to protect your property and, more importantly, your people.

For more information about data security, read the ECCU white paper Is Your Data Secure?

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