For most of the current century, going to church isn't what it used to be and LionHeart founder Tim Miller has the qualifications for such a time as this.
Tim Miller, Representing LionHeart International Services Group
June 2, 2018
Going most anywhere in the U.S. may not be what it once was thanks to the East Coast terror attacks on September 11, 2001 and the increase in public of public terrorism due to multiple factors.* But congregational worship gatherings put people in an especially vulnerable position. While figuratively or literally kneeling at the foot of the cross, when a believer's attention is focused upward, that saint may know the Lord has their back in the ultimate sense, but one's focus on temporal surroundings is understandably diminished.
Enter LionHeart International Services Group, https://www.lhisg.com, a concern whose specialty appears to be assuring churches remain as physically secure as the hope is that their parishioners are eternally so. Sad as it may be that current circumstances have opened a window for this kind of entrepreneurship, it seems LionHeart founder Tim Miller has the qualifications for such a time as this.
Miller opened his free, two-hour introductory presentation with the concept of church building security, and his company's services by extension, with one of Ronald Reagan's most notoriously witty presidential quips, "I'm from the government, and I'm here to help,." Though a sarcastically giddy way to commence a seminar about a sometimes-deadly topic, Miller's opening salvo for a round of laughter holds some truth. His background in the military, police, the Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security has honed the skills he transferred to his current position as head of security for the seven-campus, 30,000-member megachurch in southern Florida he now attends.
Miller's background in police work and protecting the president and other heads of state parallels improper and proper methods of securing church facilities and their attendees. Cops most often react to actions that have already taken place or are in progress at the time they use a firearm. While protecting the commander in chief and other government officials, the point is to prevent the need for reaction. The latter is the way to go when securing places of worship and their flocks.
At least one friend of mine I see regularly in a church setting may have issue with LionHeart's business, since his thought is that Christians should be prepared to die for their faith, even in the face of an attack by an active shooter. He and Miller might do well to discuss the passages the latter used from Nehemiah in regards to Jerusalem's watchmen on its wall. In the radio interview with Miller that led to my attending this event, he also mentioned how churches trust in the Almighty but still carry insurance policies for when He may allow their property or the people on it to come to physical harm. Appreciate my friend's commitment and zeal though I do, I believe that Miller has scriptural legitimacy for LionHeart's combination of business (an individualized security assessment can cost a church around $3,000) and ministry.
At least two of the major takeaways from the presentation directly stem from Miller's previous career arc. Firstly, the security of a house of worship and its parishioners should follow in concentric circles, starting in the parking lot, on through to the building and, lastly, directly around the pastor and ministry team on the sanctuary platform.
Secondly, security matters for a church rely on the team of people responsible for it, the training they receive, and the technology at their disposable. Both of these principles are transferable to a multitude of security situations.
Miller's third big point, however, resides firmly in the realm of the ecclesiastical. Church security should be viewed as a ministry. For the team he heads up at Christ Fellowship, he insists that personnel attend pre-service prayer, or they don't serve as security that Sunday morning. As an illustration of how hired hands from outside a congregation aren't likely to operate, Miller spoke of an incident where one of his team members encountered a distraught-looking woman and her child in the vestibule one morning; it turned out the lady had recently undergone a traumatic divorce and wasn't quite sure how she ended up where she was. Over coffee and conversation, Miller says, she was led to salvation by the security helper. The best-trained, godliest rent-a-cop probably can't perform that sort of Kingdom service on the clock.
How much of what LionHeart does for the elect remnant may be a bit of a guess, though. Both Miller and Mike Lundgren, a LionHeart associate who also leads an adjunct fellowship for commiseration and trading security ideas called Secure Church, spoke of their training and experiences at Willow Creek Community Church in suburban Chicago, which can reasonably be deemed ground zero for the dovetailing of two of professing U.S. Christianity's most virulent strains: the consumer-minded, seeker-sensitive model of church growth and the mystical, anthropocentric, leftist dominionism of so-called emergent practice. Those at Willow Creek should be free from physical threat to engage in their theologically wanting, social justice-informed goings on, of course. Suggesting that Willow Creek and its numerous satellites and acolyte bodies adhere to a biblical template for what they do is another matter altogether, as abundant evidence to the contrary would belay. (See http://tollbooth.org/index.php/past-issues/past-features/1907-willow-creek-global-leadership-summit for my eyewitness assessment.)
Furthermore, Lundregren spoke of how church security can be a means of bringing unity to the Lord's earthly body. Considering that at least one Romanist body was represented this morning and I brought a Unitarian Universalist friend as a kind of witness to her, I can't stand with Lundregren in his vision apart from his desire to ensure freedom to peaceably congregate without undue fear.
Regardless of my concerns , the two-day, three-instructor training LionHeart will be offering at another Appleton church later this year for $99, including an interactive experience with what looks like a giant first-person shooter video game, should be an enlightening, value priced experience. A church of any degree of orthodoxy and of any size should be able to benefit from their expertise and concern for people's safety.
-Jamie Lee Rake
*Statistics I've recently heard from whom I believe to be a well-researched, reliable source indicate that mass shootings in the United States are, at worst, holding steady in number over the past serveral years; the highly visible nature of them in places such as churches and schools is what's been changing.