Church Emergency Response

A guide to protecting the people in your ministry before, during, and after an emergency

Being a pastor and running a church is not a Sunday-only operation. Regardless of the size of the church property and the number of people who come and go on Sunday and throughout the week, many issues must be considered to operate a safe and secure ministry. Threats of severe weather, natural disaster, theft, medical emergency, power failure, building hazards, and, increasingly, acts of violence are all possible emergency scenarios for which every church should be prepared.

The one common denominator in the vast majority of emergencies is that they are not fully anticipated. Even the most seasoned law enforcement officer still finds that his blood pressure and heart rate go up when faced with a life and death situation. Of course, not every emergency is a matter of life and death, but all emergencies have the potential for long-term negative effects on your ministry and your ability to effectively serve your community if they are not appropriately handled. From an elderly member experiencing a heart attack during a service, to a bus accident, an act of terror, an armed attack, a gas leak, or a bomb threat, to a broken arm on the playground, a sexual assault allegation, or a tornado threat, the potential scenarios are enough to make any ministry concerned. And while identifying the most likely types of events that will precipitate an emergency is relatively simple, responding appropriately and calmly to them is best accomplished through proper planning. A well-executed emergency response plan can vastly minimize the short- and long-term negative impact on your ministry and your people and will develop confidence and trust in your church’s leadership among those within the ministry and community.

Developing a comprehensive emergency response plan with the input of those within and outside the church who have experience in safety and security issues, as well as those within the church who would be responsible for carrying out the plans, is crucial to protecting church attendees and church property before, during, and after a crisis and for protecting the church from liability.

The NCLL has developed this resource to assist your ministry in identifying the most likely safety and/or security threats you might face. While every ministry’s emergency response plan will look different from others simply because every church has its own unique set of conditions to consider, we trust that this resource will provide a good starting point from which you can begin to craft appropriate emergency response plans.

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