The Next Move in Church Security (By, Carl Chinn -- see also www.carlchinn.com) 

Many of us have been spreading the message that It is time for churches and faith-based organizations to be intentional about keeping their people safe. The reception has been good. Faith based organizations of all theologies are safer now than they were in the past.

Law enforcement agencies are stepping up to the plate across the U.S., offering their hand in partnerships and training for houses of worship in their areas.

But there are still some things missing. Faith based organization (FBO) security operations continue to be silos of information. There are no standards. Nobody can say how much of a FBO’s operating budget should be designated for security. There is no good model for the number of people serving as safety or security compared to ministry size, or event attendance. Nobody knows the most common incident a team faces and how that differs at a 100-member traditional church in Georgia from a 1,000-member progressive church in Oregon. FBO security leaders in California are out of touch with their counterparts in Michigan and New York.

When a national level threat is relevant to churches or other FBO’s, there is no method of getting a vetted message out quickly. There are few regions where local threat concerns are shared between area ministries and law enforcement.

While most in law-enforcement accept the reality that they cannot be at all places all the time, there are still pockets of resistance (some officers and some agencies) in recognizing the value of responsible volunteer defenders. Some of those volunteer defenders don’t help that mistrust by their own resistance of law-enforcement.

There is no organized and informed voice on legislative issues, though we are seeing regular bills in states across the country which have a direct impact on our ability to keep FBO’s safe. A handful of regions continue to regulate security at a level beyond the realities of small churches needing to protect their congregation.

There are pockets of progress. Some regions have a good start on at least some of these needs, but it is spotty and disconnected. Local coalitions are forming, but there are no tools in place to connect with coalitions in other areas. Some of those coalitions do training well, some are better at networking and some share effective threat intelligence. A few do all those services well, but remain disconnected from other regions.

There is no dissemination of findings learned from various FBO types, sizes and regions as needed for best-practices, benchmarks and information.

On August 1, 2016, I filed papers with the State of Colorado for a new non-profit called the Faith Based Security Network, Inc. Over the next 15 months, a Board of Directors came together, Bylaws were adopted, an IRS application for 501(c)(3) was applied for, denied, then fought for.

Finally, on October 18th, 2017 we received our 947 letter from the IRS granting the FBSN 501(c)(3) status as a public charity.

The Faith-Based Security Network (FBSN) is a national network of local faith-based security operators, devoted to professional development by sharing best practices, resources, seasoned benchmarks and active information. While other good organizations are dedicated to specific concepts of church safety or security, the FBSN is unique in that:

1.      The FBSN is a national network of local chapters and members. As a 501(c)(3), it is a sustainable entity operated by a Board of Directors voted on by the membership to support the needs of the membership and their communities.

2.      The FBSN provides a platform of law-enforcement and civilian members working together towards common goals to benefit their community.

3.      While the concern for safety is for all faiths, leadership (both national and local) is required to sign a statement of Christian faith.

4.      The FBSN is a network of responsible defenders serving in the specific realm of faith-based safety and security operations.

5.      The FBSN is a member connected organization. A significant benefit is the peer-peer contact network.

6.      FBSN members are vetted by a background check and annually confirmed to have an active security-related role in a faith-based organization. There is also a membership specific to active duty law-enforcement vetted by confirmation from their agency.

7.      The FBSN is focused on houses of worship of all sizes and theologies and other faith based organizations (including schools, charities, outreaches and medical facilities).

8.      Training resources, best practices, benchmarks and models shared by the FBSN are not the opinions of a few at the organization top. They are a compilation gathered from engaged law-enforcement and effective operators across the spectrum of ministry types, regions, cultures and sizes.

9.      The FBSN charter submitted to the IRS in the 501(c)(3) application made clear the FBSN will campaign for legislative issues intended for freedom to develop volunteer safety and security teams at all sizes of ministries without heavy handed governmental regulation. As such, the FBSN is the voice of many.

10.    The FBSN will work with major manufacturers and service providers to develop package products and demonstrable discounts intended for unique faith-based security operations.

It will take time to become a fully functioning organization, but every new member is a step towards that goal.

The first phase will be establishing new coalitions and connecting existing ones. Then the FBSN can begin to collect data from members of myriad theological, regional and size profiles. That data collection will be a continuing improvement process, with better information each year.

Can we form a national network of local connections?

Can we truly establish best practices, benchmarks and models applicable for mutual benefit?

Can we draw the attention of relative suppliers in such a way as to encourage collective buying power?

Can we effectively share information that will keep congregated people safer?

Can we improve the ways law-enforcement and responsible volunteer defenders work with each other?

Can we impact laws in regions that are resistant to volunteer security operations?

We know it can’t be done alone. So, please, let’s do it together.