Biblical Scriptures & Principles for Church Safety & Security

Ecclesiastes 10:4
If the spirit of the ruler rise up against thee, leave not thy place; for yielding pacifieth great offences.
Once upon a time, the lack of peace and safety church leaders worried about, mostly happened somewhere else; Now, the rise in deadly shootings and other crimes has visited churches. Church leaders
of many houses of God are seeing their need to prepare for the unthinkable. The ranks of those who say “It couldn’t happen here” have begun to shrink. You may not have the ability to avoid a mass shooting or other emergency from ever occurring. Still, you can enhance the security at the House of Worship and have a plan in place to respond effectively to an emergency. It is clear that God not only defends his people but expects them to act in their own defense. They are to wisely plan their defense and put it into action, while still trusting God for its effectiveness.
Today the general mindset is different as opposed to Old Testament times. Churches in general do not carry the same level of respect they had a few generations ago. Neither is there the same respect for those of different persuasions, whether political stands, social issues, or religious beliefs.
Where most people back then saw no need for defending themselves and others in a church, now more people sense the need.
This is especially true in the wake of New Life in Colorado Springs, Emanuel AME in Charleston, Burnette Chapel in Antioch, and First Baptist in Sutherlund Springs.
Even churches belonging to pacifist (non-violent) traditions have begun to use some level of security involving self-defense. For them, this is usually unarmed resistance of attackers and grab-and-go (escort) holds of persons becoming violent. But even Mennonite Mutual, the church insurance company for a large pacifist group, no longer disallows congregations with armed church security teams.
The Bible does not forbid Christians from defending themselves, except for the response to a non-lethal physical or verbal insult (‘turn the other cheek”). However, aside from this, self-defense is expected throughout the Scriptures. It is the only prudent response to violence. This may be unarmed defense – there are many organizations and schools teaching this.
Current conditions in society, even in North America, justify having at least a few Safety Team members who are armed. Just as swords were carried for defense in Jesus’ day, handguns are carried today. But with the firepower comes responsibility. This means preparation (training), practice, and prudence. Jesus told His disciples to be “wise as serpents” while still being “harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16). (
Church security is increasing at houses of worship worldwide due to threats such as active shooter attacks and acts of terrorism. The FBI Hate Crimes Stats report revealed there were over 7,000 hate criminal activity events in 2017, with practically 21 percent of those encouraged by a religious predisposition. Houses of worship can be targeted because of the religious beliefs they practice or just because of the market make up their congregation.
You may not have the ability to avoid a mass shooting from ever occurring. Still, you can enhance the security at the House of Worship and have a plan in place to respond effectively to an emergency.
Remember, it only takes three elements for any violent crime: (1) An attacker motivated by a cause, (2) A victim who represents that cause, and (3) A lack of protection. The first two elements exist in just about any major gathering of people. The third may be more common in faith-based organizations than any other group. (Evil Invades Sanctuary by
Carl Chinn)
We must defend the church from violence. While deadly force should be viewed as an absolute last resort, we must prepare to use it properly and effectively. We must remain alert to potential threats and know how much force should be used in any given situation as well as what the laws are regarding its use.
1 Thessalonians 5:3 declares that it is when men cry “peace and safety” than sudden destruction will come.
Now, peace and safety has become a call to action. That’s why is here today. Don’t take church security lightly or it may be one of the last things you ever do.
According to Ron Aguiar, author of “Keeping Your Church Safe” “The best thing you can do to avoid injury and loss of life is prevent an attack in the first place.”
“When preventative measures fail, being caught without the means to defend yourself, even in a house of worship, is a mistake you might only get to make once.”
Let me share some Biblical Principles and Scriptures for church security.
Nehemiah 4:9
“Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them.”
Nehemiah 4:14
“And I looked, and rose up, and said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, Be not ye afraid of them: remember the LORD, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses.”
Isaiah 21:6
“For thus hath the LORD said unto me, Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth.”
1 Timothy 5:8
“But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”
2 Corinthians 6:15
“And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? (Would you want to be associated in any way with an infidel?)”
James 2:20
“But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?”
James 2:26
“For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”
2 Corinthians 13:1
“…In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.”
Luke 22:36
“Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him
take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.”

Luke 11:21
When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace:
1 Chr. 9:21-24
“And Zechariah the son of Meshelemiah was porter of the door of the
tabernacle of the congregation. 22 All these which were chosen to be porters in the gates were two hundred and twelve. These were reckoned by their genealogy in their villages, whom David and Samuel the seer did ordain in their set office. 23 So they and their children had the oversight of the gates of the house of the Lord, namely, the house of the tabernacle, by wards. 24 In four quarters were the porters, toward the east, west, north, and south.”
Now what do you suppose those porters were there for? The security of the people and the house of God!
Prov. 22:3
“A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: but the simple pass on, and are punished.”
2 Kings 11:7, 11
“And two parts of all you that go forth on the sabbath, even they shall keep the watch of the house of the Lord about the king. (11) And the guard stood, every man with his weapons in his hand, round about the king, from the right corner of the temple to the left corner of the temple, along by the altar and the temple.”
Remember, security can be balanced with a warm, welcoming environment at your church by using friendly greeters while
keeping an eye out for the unusual.
James 1:19 KJV
“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering.”
I believe it is the supreme responsibility of every parent (Dad, Mom, Grandparent, etc.) to protect their family from anyone or anything that might do them harm. [1 Timothy 5:8] That includes the house of worship which most criminals consider a “soft target.” because no body will be there with the ability to stop them.
The Scriptures tell us in Psalm 62 verse six, “He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defense;…” Then again in
Proverbs 24: 29, the Scripture says, “Say not, I will do so to him as he hath done to me: I will render to the man according to his
work.” I do not believe that Christians have a right or mandate to
retaliate when slandered or insulted. Such insults do not threaten the personal safety of a Christian. Defending one’s self against a mugger, robber, or rapist is a different story, however. As author Don Boys, Ph.D says, “Christians don’t shoot to kill. They shoot to stay alive!”
From my studies and experienced observation, a Christian doesn’t have a right to retaliation or personal vengeance. However, one does have a Scriptural and Constitutional right to defend himself, his family and his or her property. Remember also that Jesus, as gentle and mild as he was, drove the money changers out of the temple with a whip then turned over their tables. He also stood in their way so they couldn’t pass through. (Mark 11:15 & 16).
It is clear to me that God holds mankind responsible for being armed and prepared to protect and defend his family.
Jesus taught in Luke 22:36 that if one doesn’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. Pacifist beliefs do not stand up to the harsh reality of our fallen world nor is pacifism to be reconciled to the clear teachings of Scripture. Consider Proverbs 14:12, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.
There are a number of passages of Scripture that encourage escaping from danger or even using force in self-defense, if necessary, and encourage us to defend other people against wrongful attacks (Psalms 82:3). Jesus’s disciples carried swords, even after three years of traveling with Jesus. In the garden of Gethsemne, they had swords. Swords in the first century were used for self defense. So, I think there are times in which self-defense to prevent us from suffering significant bodily harm is justified.
Jesus himself told us in St. Luke 11:21, “When a strong man armed keepeth his palace, his goods are in peace.”
English Common Law states that a man’s home is his castle(or palace). I believe that includes your family and possessions occupying or associated with your castle, whether in church or out of church. A burglar (rapist, robber, pervert, predator, etc.) who has no regard for the sanctity of your home or church, would likely have no more regard for your physical wellbeing. He or she is not breaking into your home or place of worship accidentally and presents a “clear and present danger.”
In my opinion, the use of force to stop violence is not the same as the initiation of violence. I fully agree with Don Boys when he says that if you permit a murder or rape of an innocent child when you could have stopped it than you are morally responsible for it! (see Matthew 24;43)
Therefore, from these and other Scriptures, it is clear to me that God holds men responsible for being prepared to stand up for his family and acquaintances and even for being armed, if necessary, and prepared to protect his family, even in church. (or anywhere else for that matter).
I would never want to be found to be “worse than an infidel” by allowing someone to harm my family or acquaintances when I have a means to stop them. (see Matthew 24:43).
Revenge is in God’s hands; protection for our family and Christian brothers and sisters is our responsibility.
God himself says he is our defense. However, I do believe we, as individuals, have a definite mandate from God to defend and provide for our families, even in the House of God.

Don Woolett,

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