In the previous post we determined that God’s Word can help us become thoroughly equipped even in issues like church safety. Sure, it may not give instructions on using background checks or how to set up an alarm system or other specific safety measures available today but it does provide principles that we can, and should, apply no matter what means we might use.
Biblical Principles Derived from the Old Testament Meeting Place
Zechariah son of Meshelemiah was the gatekeeper at the entrance to the tent of meeting. Altogether, those chosen to be gatekeepers at the thresholds numbered 212. They were registered by genealogy in their villages. The gatekeepers had been assigned to their positions of trust by David and Samuel the seer. They and their descendants were in charge of guarding the gates of the house of the LORD – the house called the tent of meeting. The gatekeepers were on the four sides: east, west, north and south. (1 Chron. 9:21-24)
1) Purposefully assign specific people, and a sufficient number of people, to be responsible for protecting different areas. — Choose your safety team carefully.
2) Help people involved in church safety understand that they’ve been give an entrustment which implies accountability. — Take safety needs seriously.
3) Guard not just the main entrance but all points of entry or vulnerability. — Have a comprehensive plan.
Biblical Principles from Nehemiah for Dealing with Safety Issues at the Building of the Wall
But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites and the people of Ashdod heard that the repairs to Jerusalem’s walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry. They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it. (Neh. 4:7-8)
1) Remember to pray. Praying doesn’t negate the need for taking safety measures. And, having a safety plan in place doesn’t minimize our need to pray.
But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat. (Neh. 4:9)
2) Fortify areas that are particularly vulnerable to attack. While we always need to be vigilant, some ministries, meetings, or types of people groups may need additional protection.
I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows. (Neh. 4:13)
3) The key to not letting potential dangers consume you with fear and anxiety is to keep your reliance on the Lord above the safety measures put in place.
After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your families, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.” (Neh. 4:14)
4) While everyone has a part in church safety to be observant and ready to act, some should have it as their primary responsibility to be on guard.
From that day on, half of my men did the work, while the other half were equipped with spears, shields, bows and armor. The officers posted themselves behind all the people of Judah who were building the wall. Those who carried materials did their work with one hand and held a weapon in the other, and each of the builders wore his sword at his side as he worked. (Neh. 4:16-18)
5) A means of communication must be in place so people can be alerted promptly and efficiently of problems. Make sure people know what specific actions to take when alerted.
But the man who sounded the trumpet stayed with me. Then I said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “The work is extensive and spread out, and we are widely separated from each other along the wall. Wherever you hear the sound of the trumpet, join us there.” (Neh. 4:18-20)
6) Constantly assess your situation. Always stay alert. Always be prepared.
Have every man and his helper stay inside Jerusalem at night, so they can serve us as guards by night and as workers by day. Neither I nor my brothers nor my men nor the guards with me took off our clothes; each had his weapon, even when he went for water. (Neh. 4:21-23)
Biblical Principles from Jesus Related to Safety & Security
1) Just because God is able to protect us doesn’t mean we should put Him to the test whether intentionally or by being negligent.
“If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.'” Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'” (Matt. 4:6-7)
2) Trust God for His will because He knows the big picture. Whether He keeps us from harm or allows the unthinkable, perspective comes as we rest in His sovereignty and grace.
… he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” … He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” (Matt. 26:36-44)
From just these examples we can see that indeed Scripture addresses security issues. We simply need to take the principles we find and determine the specific application of them to our particular setting. The exact methods or means of accomplishing it may vary but the biblical principles remain as relevant and powerful for us today as for the people back then.