Protecting Our Churches from Gun Violence

Protecting Our Churches from Gun Violence

As I write this (Thursday, December 10), I’m on stand-by to go to San Bernardino as part of the Seal Beach Police Department’s “Peer Support Team”. Four years ago a disgruntled man killed eight people at a hair salon a couple of blocks from Grace Community Church in Seal Beach. We can’t say, “It can’t happen here” because it has.

How might churches be ready? Or do we “just trust the Lord”? Consider what Nehemiah did when faced with a threat. He said, “We prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat” (Nehemiah 4:9). Trust and do.


Does your church have a “This facility is a weapons-free zone” sign posted? If so, take it down. Why advertise your vulnerability?
Do you have members with CCW (carry concealed weapon) permits? Consider asking them to be armed when they are on-site and have a plan for them if something happens.
Take a look at the federal government’s (FEMA’s) PDF document on how places of worship can develop an Emergency Operations Plan. It has a section on “Active Shooter Situations.” The link is below.
Your insurance company might offer assistance on developing a plan. Church Law and Tax Report has material available. Check with your local police department on what advice it might offer. It would be more expensive, but you could obtain the services of a safety/security consultant.
• Church Law and Tax Report has a checklist, “Are We Prepared for Gun Violence at Church?”
Be in prayer for churches that are touched by these tragedies and be sure to give them your condolences and support. I sent an email to Hope Chapel in Colorado Springs last week. The officer slain at the Planned Parenthood shooting was a lay pastor in that church.

Finally, just “trusting the Lord” on things like this is a form of hyper-Calvinism. It separates the end from the means and separates God’s sovereignty from human responsibility. Another form of this is the pastor who prays about his personal financial needs but never asks his church for a raise (no charge for this insight).

Donald Shoemaker
Chair, Social Concerns Committee, Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches
Senior Chaplain, Seal Beach Police Department
Pastor Emeritus, Grace Community Church of Seal Beach

Developing High-Quality Emergency Operations Plans:

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