Unfortunately, we continue to see churches and places of worship become victims of violent attacks. While our first and most important tool is prayer, there are several additional steps church leaders can take to protect their congregations.

Deciding when and which doors to lock, how to respond in the event of an emergency, how to collaborate with first responders on emergency response plans, and establishing safety teams are just a few examples. Unless you have someone on your staff who is a security expert, you’ll probably need to connect with outside sources to provide direction on the best course of action for your church.

Below are five resources to consider:

1. Church insurance company

Talk with your church’s insurance agent to see what resources they have available. Some provide free e-books and training; others may have a list of preferred vendors you could contact and more. Most will at least offer guidance on what they require as your insurer.

2. Your church’s denomination

Check with your denomination’s leadership to see if they provide resources regarding safety and security policies. They might have templates and examples of security policies and procedures you could use along with a list of recommended security experts to contact.

3. The Church Network

This should come as no surprise, but The Church Network offers online courses on church security. They also have resources such as a Safety and Security Manual, Emergency Preparedness Response Manual, and more (many are free).

Also, contact your local chapter of The Church Network to see if they plan on addressing security during an upcoming meeting.

4. Church Law & Tax

This part of the Christianity Today organization provides several articles and other resources related to church security. If you go to their online store and search for “security,” you’ll find several e-books you can use as a starting point for your church security procedures.

5. Local first responders

As your church develops or updates the security plan, contact local first responders to see if they’re willing to review the plan and provide input. They’ll be the ones you call on for help should an emergency occur, so having their expert insights on your plan could be extremely valuable.

No one wants to think a violent attack could occur at their church. However, we’ve seen several instances in the news that prove it is possible and that we need to be prepared. By leveraging these and other expert resources, you can create a plan and take action to protect your congregation.