I arrived home after church to the news of the church shooting at First Baptist Sutherland Springs, Texas. My heart sank as I quickly searched for the latest information and news releases. I kept thinking over and over in my head, “Not again.” We all hurt and grieve because we sense the reality that it could have been us. We all hurt and grieve because one congregation is just one segment of the Church. We are all family and part of the Body.
Just a few hours before the news broke, I, too, was sitting in a pew next to my husband worshiping and hearing God’s Word proclaimed. My daughter and son-in-law were serving in their church. My parents were serving in another church. Thousands of congregations were meeting and worshiping the same God. And while I’ve always felt safe at church, with each shooting, that feeling isn’t as secure.
If you’re a women’s ministry leader, you may not give this a second thought, but you should. Your Bible studies, your special events, and your mission trips are reasons to consider how you will address the issue of safety. If you or others in your church are concerned, consider these ideas and make sure you are asking these questions.
1. You can’t stop violence, but you can have a plan. Consider security issues such as entrances and exits. Use security cameras and security software for children’s areas. I may be annoyed at locked doors or procedures of signing in for childcare, but each of these steps may deter someone from easy access to gatherings or to your children.
2. Do you have a security team at your church? Are there people in your congregation who watch for suspicious packages or people? Have you considered contacting your local law enforcement agency to patrol your parking lot during events or services? Have you invited a law enforcement official to visit your campus and offer suggestions for security improvement? Talk with your pastor or staff so you know their security plans.
3. Do you have good lighting in your parking area? If you are having a women’s event, are there people who can escort women to their cars?
4. If you are on a mission trip and serving in a different country, do you have copies of everyone’s passports? Do you have contact information for family members? Do you stay together and avoid situations where you are alone? Do you have a designated “meet-up” place in case something should happen when you are in a crowd?
5. Remember to balance your desire for safety without causing additional fear. It would be easy to live in fear of the “what ifs,” yet Scripture repeatedly tells us to “fear not.” Plans for safety should be made behind the scenes so you can lead with assurance.
Let’s continue to remember the families of those who lost their lives on Sunday. We weep with those who weep and grieve with those who grieve.
Kelly King is the Women’s Ministry Specialist for LifeWay Christian Resources and oversees the YOU Lead events. Join her this year and get to know her heart for ministry leaders. Follow her on Twitter @kellydking.