The Rev. Steven Marsh never thought he would see the day his church in Laguna Woods, California — a town of 16,500 populated largely by retirees — would be spending $20,000 a month for security.

At Geneva Presbyterian, armed security guards now stand watch every weekday and during Sunday services. The church also is adding more security cameras, developing an active shooter plan and applying for Department of Homeland Security funding.

“We’re not trying to militarize the church,” Marsh said. “We prayed about it and made a decision to have armed security as an act of faith.”

Looking Out or Looking In?

What is most disturbing to us is not the fact that a church has decided to have a security program. No ,what bothers us is that the first reaction was to look outward instead of inward. Even for a large church, a $20,000 monthly bill to pay an outside security bill seems rather steep. The idea that a church body would see the US Federal Government as their source for funding is even more disturbing.

How did we get to this point? How did our churches come to the point where their first instinct would be not to turn to the congregation, to their church family, but to look outside of the church? Does this underlying mentality indicate that the church fathers view the world as the choice and the family of God as the second choice? Where are their priorities?

How Much Should Church Security Cost? 

How much should a church expect to pay for a security team? We are not so naive as to believe that no money at all will need to be spent. A church security team will need quality radios and the accessories that go along with them. These items will need to be purchased, but they are not $20 Grand. 

The budget for surveillance cameras and monitors may need to be taken into account. You will note that I used the term “surveillance” not “security”.  Cameras do NOT provide any form of security. If they did there would never be robberies or assaults where cameras are present. 

If your church budget can support either radios for a security team or a surveillance system, you should opt for radios for actual humans who can stop bad people.  Cameras do NOT stop bad people from doing anything, they only record the incident for posterity. 

The Legion of Michael: Church Security Team

We developed the Legion of Michael Church Security Training Program to enable the people of the congregation, the church family, to create, organize, and train a professionally functioning team. 

A Legion of Michael Team consists of volunteer members of the church family who donate their time to become trained and then offer protection for their brothers and sisters in Christ. These are not a bunch of outsiders who have no investment in the church and are only there for the paycheck.

“We’re not trying to militarize the church,” Marsh said. “We prayed about it and made a decision to have armed security as an act of faith.”

Reverend Marsh said they are not trying to militarize the church. Regardless of that statement, when you have outsiders in uniforms with guns, that is exactly the perception that the congregation will have. You have a group of stone-faced golems who look at everyone who walks in the doors as a potential threat. 

Who knows your church family better than the members of your church family? Who will care more for your church family better than their brothers and sisters in Christ?

Answers for Questions; Get Started Today

The idea of starting or forming a designated church security team can be daunting. We completely understand that. Take the quick Church Security Preparedness Survey above, it can help you answer questions you might be having. 

Also, we produced a detailed manual entitled; Legion of Michael; Defending the Flock. The pages of this book are filled with answers to the myriad questions you likely have. Naturally, the best way to get started with a dedicated church security team is to enroll in the Legion of Michael distance learning program. The training material can be accessed from anywhere in the world. The next step is yours. May God bless you and your church family.  

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Paul G. Markel has worn many hats during his lifetime. He has been a U.S. Marine, Police Officer, Professional Bodyguard, and Small Arms and Tactics Instructor. Mr. Markel has been writing professionally for law enforcement and firearms periodicals for nearly twenty years with hundreds and hundreds of articles in print. Paul is a regular guest on nationally syndicated radio talk shows and subject matter expert in firearms training and use of force. Mr. Markel has been teaching safe and effective firearms handling to students young and old for decades and has worked actively with the 4-H Shooting Sports program. Paul holds numerous instructor certifications in multiple disciplines and a Bachelor’s degree in conflict resolution; nonetheless, he is and will remain a dedicated Student of the Gun.

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