Over 140 dead bodies have been found at church since 1999.
Of the 140 plus deceased persons found on church property, for many of them it is not certain where they were killed. Some were killed off church property and left on church property.
This is the reason your safety team must conduct a “safety stroll” when they arrive at church on Sunday morning (or for that matter, a stroll anytime before a congregational meeting).
The safety stroll consist of the following:
1- After your team meets, you need to check the parking lot. Look for anything out of the ordinary. I know of a lady who, while policing up trash on a church parking lot, found an item that she threw into the dumpster. It turned out to be a bomb and after hurling it in the dumpster, it soon exploded. So, check the area of your dumpsters and the entire parking lot. If you think you might have a bomb (even the slightest suspicion) don’t touch it. Call 911 immediately.
2- Take note of any cars that you do not recognize. If you arrived early and there was a car(s) parked in the lot, find out who they belong to. Also be very careful as you approach any unknown car. A man committed suicide in his car in a church parking lot and used deadly chemicals to do so (oddly enough, he posted a sign on his car stating that that he had used such chemicals to do so). In Garland, Texas a woman was found dead in a vehicle parked on a church parking lot.
Part of taking care of the flock means you look for the unpredictable. I know of a 74-year old man who put marijuana in some cookies he brought to church.
3- Check the landscape immediately adjacent to your church building. Check the bushes, hedges, and all other landscape. Look for anything out of the ordinary. While doing this, also check your air-conditioner unit. Make sure it has not been tampered with.
4- Now, and this is very important, check all doors that lead into the church building and make sure they are locked. If while doing so you discover an unlocked door, you must not allow anyone to meet in the room that this door leads into until you have conducted a “sweep” of the room(s). This is so very important. It is possible that someone has crept in overnight, and is still there. Churches have reported homeless people making their way inside on more than one occasion.
5- And by all means, make sure you have a security presence IN THE PARKING LOT. How often must we repeat this? These killers who come to your church are going to rush into a parking lot, park awkwardly, get out of the car (in a rush) and come in to kill. You must be a step ahead of them. You must have armed personnel near the front door, outside. You cannot allow these murderers inside the church building. KEEP THEM OUT. ENGAGE THEM OUTSIDE.
I know of churches who hire police officers and have them sit in the sanctuary. NO! Do you want a shootout inside the sanctuary? Of course not. Make sure that at least one officer is outside, near the front door.
These are all very simple things to do. They even seem a bit mundane. But do not be fooled by such thinking. Remember that you are taking care of the flock, and this is part of your assignment.
UPCOMIMING SHEEPDOG SEMINARS
- Kettering, Ohio - next weekend (August 24-25)
- San Diego, California (October6). Stephen Willeford will be with us. Stephen is the man who shot the killer at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas last November (where 26 worshipers were killed).