What is said in church has a great potential to be shared with the world through social media, and the firestorm which may erupt, may find your church security team dealing with enormous security issues for which you may not be prepared.
In recent weeks, two churches have found themselves square in the center of a political storm due to a child’s song and a preacher’s sermon both having a focus on the emotional hot button issue of homosexuality.
The Apostolic Truth Tabernacle in Greensburg, Indiana shows a boy singing: “I know that the Bible’s right, somebody’s wrong — Romans 1 and 27, ain’t no homo gonna make it to heaven,” into a microphone before the congregation, which bursts into cheers and stands up to applaud him.
The video was posted on You Tube and at the time of writing this article had been viewed 567,044. I believe the video has been viewed many more times than this, but it had been flagged on You Tube and taken down. The same video was disseminated through national news organizations.
Charles L. Worley of Providence Road Baptist Church in Maiden, N.C preached a sermon where he spoke of a plan to get rid of homosexuals by placing them inside an electricified fence and spoke of the inability to reproduce. The video was posted to You Tube as well.
The video had been viewed 1,055,144 times at the time of this post. In addition, the story had been circulated internationally through hundreds of news organization.
According to news reports, the Indiana church reported threats against the pastor, but the Sheriff’s office stated they had not received any reports of credible threats. Twenty protestors, mostly local people, gathered the following Sunday to protest against the church.
In the North Carolina incident, reportedly hundreds of protestors gathered at the county justice center (12 miles from the church location). Two protestors were arrested for disorderly conduct.
Lt. Daryl McCarty of the Catawba County Sheriff’s office told CNN that vandals tried to set fire to Worley’s Providence Road Baptist Church on Friday “in retaliation about his remarks against homosexuals and lesbians from the pulpit.” Police are investigating the incident.
While it is true pastors often preach on controversial issues, it is difficult to predict an event where a video goes viral and your local body is placed in a national or international news story.
The advent of social media has made this issue a very real possibility.
Regardless of the issue, any church would be wise to pre-plan for media response, protests inside and outside the church, media access during a church service, security and protection issues for the pastor, coordinating with local law enforcement, dealing with threats against the physical structure of the church, and potential for violence against church members.
Formulating a crisis plan while the crisis unfolds is often a recipe for disaster and will leave anyone providing for the security of the church attempting to catch up when they are already far behind.
An Emergency Church Crisis Management Plan is a guide for church staff members that will assist in addressing a wide range of potential problems in the church. An effective plan includes specific procedures that cover a wide variety of potential problems or situations. Each potential topic area should be reviewed. Once you have reviewed the issues and decided which you need to plan for, a procedure should be implemented to deal with the most likely results of the incident. Once this is completed, they should be added to the church safety manual.