As soon as I heard the news, my heart sunk. Not only had there been a shooting at First Baptist Sutherland Springs in Texas, but nearly everyone in the congregation of roughly 50 people had been shot.
After praying for them and their families, my mind immediately went to the obvious, “What if that had been here?”
While we have always taken security seriously, especially since the inception of our security teams at each campus this year, this reality leads us to take even more steps to secure our facilities. And this isn’t just to prevent a tragedy from occurring. It is more about creating an environment that that allows anyone attending a worship service to do so free from fear and distraction.
After research and seeking guidance from professionals in this area, our leadership team and security teams will be implementing the following measures beginning this Sunday at each campus.
- Auditorium doors will now be locked at all times. This means once the doors close, usually after the welcome and offering segment, they will not be able to be opened again from the lobby until the service has concluded. This is already happening in our kids areas, which are closed and locked once the service begins. Each of our campuses were designed in a way that we could leave the front doors of the building unlocked to remain open and welcoming while also securing the rest of the building so that only the lobby is accessible from the outside. And don’t worry – the auditorium doors only lock on the outside so you can always get out, while our security team leader and staff can always unlock the doors in the event of an emergency.
While this obviously helps to keep a “bad guy” out, it also allows those in the auditorium to be free from fear and distraction. We do not want those in the auditorium flinching and looking over their shoulder every time they hear the door open or close. We also want to limit the number of movements the security team has to monitor in the auditorium during the course of the service so they are not needlessly distracted from what they are trained to do.
This change won’t affect 95% of you who won’t even notice a difference. For the rest of you, it simply means you might have to hold it 20 minutes longer 😉 Or just watch the service on the screens in the overflow area of the lobby after doing your business in the restroom.
- A security volunteer will be stationed outside of each auditorium entrance. This will add an extra layer of protection when the auditorium doors are open, while also providing a helping hand if it is needed in or around the auditorium for any number of reasons during a service. This is also already happening in our kids areas.
- Extra security will be stationed outside of each campus. This volunteer team exists so you and your family feel as safe and secure as possible while at OneLife. We know this Sunday may feel a little extra worrisome to some, so we will make sure we do what we can to ease those fears.
- A security system is being installed this week at each of our campuses. This will allow our security team to monitor the facilities via video at all times.
At the end of the day, we know that God is in control and will ultimately bring triumph out of any tragedy. But we also know that we must be good shepherds of the flock God gives to us and must do what we can to protect each and every one.
If you would like to get involved in the security team at your campus, email our central security team leader Steve Ross at email@example.com or contact your campus pastor.