Fred Winters was pastor of First Baptist Church in Maryville, Illinois. He was shot in his church and died shortly thereafter...
Paul the Apostle found himself in a rather strange predicament in Philippians 1. He couldn’t decide if he wanted to live or die. To depart and be with Christ would be far better, he wrote, but in the end he decided it would be better if he lived. He came to this conclusion based on the needs of the Philippians. Read it for yourself –
“ For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better. I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. But for your sakes, it is better that I continue to live. Knowing this, I am convinced that I will remain alive so I can continue to help all of you grow and experience the joy of your faith.”
And this is one reason church safety is so important. Your pastor has work to do; souls to save, members to disciple, and so on. We want to keep him alive so he can fulfill his mission. If Satan targets anyone, he will surely aim at the minister. He will seek to destroy the pastor any way he can.
Fred Winters was the pastor of First Baptist Church in Maryville, Illinois.During the early service in March 2009, Pastor Winters was gun downed by Terry Sedlacek. There has been much debate as to why Sedlacek committed this crime in front of 190 worshipers. Winters was merely standing behind his pulpit when Sedlacek approached him and shot him.
One man at the church that morning who participated in stopping Sedlacek told me that he believed Satan was behind the murder. I agree with him. Jesus said the devil is a liar and a murderer. And the Apostle John warned us to not be like Cain who killed his brother because he was “of the evil one.”
"The prudent foresee danger and take precautions..." Proverbs 22:3
After the shooting at Wedgwood Baptist Church in Ft. Worth, Texas, Pastor Al Meredith explained to a television reporter that he understood what was going on. He went on to say that Wedgwood is located near a seminary, and many of its students attend Wedgwood. Satan, he concluded, would target these preachers who would one day be spread across the globe sharing the word.
Many people are wrestling with the issue of church safety. They have difficulty with the issue of force, self-defense, etc. However, we must not allow such deception to set in. If Satan targets your pastor, you must be ready to defend him.
History shows that the enemy has targeted ministers. Millions of those who were faithful to spread the word have been in his sights. And if the devil succeeds, there will be excessive grief in your church for a very long time. You will spend years trying to heal the broken hearts of your congregation. Some of your members will never set foot again in a sanctuary.
Someone at your church needs to be assigned to “pastoral detail.” By this I mean that at least one member of your safety team needs to be with the minister the moment he arrives at church, and stay with him until he leaves. Stay close to him, and beware of any strangers who approached him. Stay out of his way for the most part, but be mindful of all who near him – especially those whom you do not recognize.
In Tulsa, Oklahoma a pastor was ministering to those who responded to the invitation. As he was doing so, one of the “seekers” punched him in the face (watch the video of this incident below).
Your church needs their pastor. He has a lot of unfinished work to do…
TIPS FOR PROTECTING THE PASTOR
1- Do not allow your pastor to have to be concerned about church safety. Take care of this matter for him. His calling is to pray and preach. Don't dump this matter of safety on him.
2- After Sunday night services, insist that he goes home when he's done. Do not allow him to stay at church and lock all the doors. After preaching, his energy is exhausted. He needs to go home. Have your safety team check the building and make sure it's secure.
3- During the invitation/altar call, stay close by the pastor/minister. You never know why someone has come forward. Don't get in his way, but by all means keep a close eye on him. Be ready to help him. Speak with your pastor about this and work out a signal/code he can give if he needs your assistance.
4- Tell the pastor when he is at the church ALONE - keep the doors locked!