Churches are meant to be sanctuaries from all the evil that happens in the outside world. But for many reasons, churches in America today are becoming targets for protests, predators and maybe even terrorists.
From small country churches to the megachurches that see thousands of worshippers every week, violence in the sanctuary happens far too often.
Of the many churches in Memphis, Tennessee, the largest is Bellevue Baptist Church. Founded in 1903, it has since grown in membership to almost 30,000 people.
Andy Willis, who heads up security at the church, has the monumental job of keeping this large congregation safe.
"Today, churches that speak the truth, that teach and preach true biblical principles, they draw a lot of attention because there are a lot of components of society today that don't want to hear that," Willis told CBN News.
"As a church security team, we have to be prepared for those kinds of situations, to intervene and to protect the flock," she said.
More than a hundred paid and volunteer security staff respond to events every week, working quietly behind the scenes to safeguard their services.
"Obviously everyone has issues. Church is the place to bring your issues. In the security department, it's our job to have discernment to determine which of those issues are dangerous to others," Willis said.
"And if we make that determination, we try to do intervention in a meaningful way, to point them at the right resources to help them," he continued.
Rising Global Threat
One of the resources that helps Bellevue prepare is church security consultant Tim Miller, a former Secret Service agent. Miller said the threat against churches is rising worldwide.
"Violence against Christians is rampant around the world," Miller told CBN News. "It hasn't necessarily touched us at the level it has other places, but if we think we're immune from that, we're sadly mistaken."
"We will begin as a nation to experience that same level of violence," he warned. "And actually the methodology we're seeing today, that same methodology is coming to the United States. The question for us is: Are we prepared to address it?"
"You're going into a place where broken people are going to be meeting every week," Miller added. "Broken people like me. And we need to keep in mind that that security we're providing needs to be ministry-based, but it needs to be every bit as good."
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