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Procedures Sound Dull Until Someone Shows Up at Church With a Gun

1. Emergency policies.

These can cover anything from threats of violence to natural disasters.

What do you do when someone becomes violent?

Do you call 911? Who is responsible for that? Do you allow guns at all on your campus? Do you encourage people lawfully carrying guns to engage threatening persons? Think about that last one. If you encourage a guy with a concealed-carry permit to “have your back,” you have placed him at risk.

What do you do in the event of inclement weather.

What happens when a tornado is coming? In the case of a hurricane, how do you communicate with your people? Our ministerial staff all have re-entry placards so that we can get back after an evacuation to be involved in coordinating disaster relief work. We even have a person designated to disconnect and take our network server when evacuating.

What happens when someone has a medical emergency while at church?

This has happened to me before. One caution: We learned from our insurance company that we cannot designate a church member as a medical professional for emergencies. We cannot have a nurse in our congregation labeled as the VBS nurse. When we do, we become an advertised health care provider subject to regulations and malpractice complaints.

2. Policies for working with minors.

These deal with any ministry to those under 18 years old.

Background checks.

Most of you probably do this. No one may work with any minor in our church in any capacity (teacher, van driver, etc.) without this. A man once balked at providing us with his social security number. He does not work with our kids.

Who can do what with young children?

Our policies stipulate that men cannot change diapers. Now, while all the ladies are sure a man wrote that policy, the reason is that, statistically, men are far more likely to be pedophiles than women. Also, at least one woman has to be in each room with young children, but a married couple cannot serve alone together in the same room (wives are more likely to cover for their husbands).

Check-in/check-out procedures.

Who can pick kids up from your preschool and grade school areas? In a previous church, we had a fairly rudimentary procedure that involved pagers. When a parent dropped off a child, she received a pager. The child could not be retrieved without that exact pager.

One day, a dad showed up to get his daughter, but he didn’t have the pager. He didn’t get his kid. We later discovered that the dad had a restraining order against him and was trying to kidnap his child. The mom was very grateful for our policy. Our church now uses a computer program called KidCheck.

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I pastor First Baptist Church in Kenner, LA (New Orleans metro area). I am Campus Pastor and Associate Professor of Expository Preaching at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Formerly, I was a corporate jet pilot. I have an MDiv with Biblical Languages, DMin in Expository Preaching, Thm, and PhD in Preaching. I'm married with 3 kids.