The Case for Trained Security at Church

This isn’t normally a topic of mine, but recently, I visited a large church on the West Coast. The pastor asked me to come and even invited me backstage to chat before the service. So, that Sunday morning, I came a little early and went backstage.

However, the security team wasn’t having any of that nonsense.

Obviously, churches, small and large, deal with the occasional over-enthusiastic visitor and sometimes outright nuts. So I mentioned that I was friends with the pastor, but that didn’t work either. He told me the pastor was preparing for the service and couldn’t be disturbed.

I suggested he ask the pastor (since the pastor invited me), but he refused to bother him.

So, I walked back out to attend the service. There was an open seat on the second row, so I took it. The worship service had already started, but before long, the same security guy told me I’d have to move back because the pastor had guests coming (probably me, huh?).

So, I moved back a few rows. Then, a couple of songs later, the security guy asked me to move again because the pastor’s family needed seats.

I kid you not. At that point in the service, by the time I found a seat it was on the back row of the sanctuary.

Of course, after the service, I was barred from coming backstage, so I went home. The next day, the pastor called, upset that I hadn’t come to the service!

I’m sure that the “security” guy meant well and was trying to help the pastor. But the problem was, he wasn’t really a security guy—just a volunteer from the congregation who had been asked to serve. It was obvious from the moment I saw him that he had no training at all.

Pastors, Executive Pastors, and other church leaders – we live in perilous times. It’s not just an issue of me getting access to the pastor or a good seat; it’s an issue of safety and security for everyone in the building.

We live in a world with a lot of mental health problems, angry ex-church members, cancel culture, and, if you’ll forgive the term, outright crazy people.

I know you’ve hesitated time and time again to use professionals because you don’t want your church to look like airport security to a visitor. But those times have gone.

The truth is that highly trained security professionals can be invisible to the congregation if that makes you more comfortable.

The bottom line? Budget for trained security. Either reputable agencies or a full-time internal security team. They know how to give the right people access and the wrong people the door.

The safety of your congregation, visitors, staff, and guest speakers is more than worth the cost.

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This article originally appeared on and is reposted here by permission.

Phil Cooke
Phil Cooke

Phil Cooke is a filmmaker, media consultant and founder of Cooke Media Group in Los Angeles, California. His latest book is Ideas on a Deadline: How to Be Creative When the Clock is Ticking. Find out more at