This past weekend I was up in Seattle, and while I was there, I visited a very large and growing church. The music was great and the preaching was as well. But there was something very different from any other church I had ever attended before, and that was the presence of security. Everything from young men with shirts that said "Security" on them to a armed police officer who sat just to the right of me. As the preacher spoke, there were even two security guards who sat in the front on either side of the stage watching the audience the whole service. Afterwards, I approached a group of them and asked, "I am from Southern Cal, and couldn't help but notice the presence of security here at this church. What specifically are you looking for?" The kind response was that there are often protesters outside of the church, at times there are people who are drunk, or on drugs who would come into the church, and the security guards are there to watch for that. In speaking to my daughter, she indicated that the pastor is very controversial, ie. a conservative Christian (that is controversial I guess, for a city like Seattle, which apparently has the country's largest statue of Lenin in it which gives you an indication of some of the thinking there).
But it struck me again, What could call the security guards into action within a church sevice?
Could screaming or loud noise? How about behavior typical of someone with intellectual disabilities milling around and refusing to take his seat? Could we hear, "Don't taze me bro!" coming from a disabled person at a church with such a security presence? If they were not compliant, would they be dragged from the room? What does that tell the community abou who we are? As Christians do we want to have the face to the community that we are tough on those who would disrupt our meetings? Of course we are permitted to have security guards at church, as well as uniformed off duty policemen. I just wonder what this communicates. A part of it strikes me as legalism on steroids, or the preservation of tradition (quiet worship services) on steroids. You see my question is, if there are drunk people around the church, does that change the way we do church or do we just beef up security so we can continue doing church in the same manner? I wonder the same thing about people with say, mental illness. If there are people with aberrant behaviors around the church, do we beef up security or change the way we do church? The increased presence of security in that church is one way of changing the way to do church. But is that the direction in which we want to change if we are indeed going to change? People with various disabilities could no doubt be the focus of the security guard's attention at a worship service, in particular if they were unknown to them. What would be role of security in such a setting?
Monday, January 28, 2008
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Sometimes when this world is getting more sinful, we have to determine who's really distrupting or who are really disabled.
We cannot make superficial objectives on this issue but rather setting up better policies on how to handle them.
I am reminded by those comment, "There are no "if's" in God's world. And no places that are safer than other places. The center of His will is our only safety - O Corrie, let us pray that we may always know it!" Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place (Betsie quoted on page 67)
I wonder what kind of message this preacher is sending his congregation each week with the security guards posted on each side of him as he preaches. Did you get the feeling he had a “God complex?” It is hard to imagine this kind of leadership behavior just being excepted by multitudes of people. What if a LD individual tried to enter the sanctuary for service? Their behavior could very well mimic that of a person who is drunk or on drugs. I am wondering if a more appropriate name for church security could simply be “usher?” The ushers at my church welcome each guest, give out programs, get a quick update… “How’s the family” etc…and make sure you have a seat. I feel church should be a place of unconditional acceptance. Wouldn’t this person (labeled usher or security) not be able to assess the situation and find everyone a seat without the intimidation of the “security label? I don’t think labels help much in this world. When stripped of our labels, we are all the same; people.
I am in awe after reading this blog about this preacher and his sermon. I agree, with a previous comment, what message is he trying to give his congregation by doing this? In the comment it said that the preacher had so much security beacuse there were a lot of drunks, drug addicts, and disturbed people who were in the surroundings. And I ask myself shouldn't these be the people the church should be helping? Aren't these the people that most need God to show them the light? And who are we to deny these people the right to visit any sermon by enforcing security???
I believe that these are the people the church should be helping and preaching to. And this is the problem with most churches these days.(I say most because I believe there are still some good churches out there). They seem they don't have the time or that they have shifted their focus and helping the people in need is not a priority anymore. Although, the church does have the responsibilty to invite people in need to the sermons I believe WE are part to blame. WE as the congregation should invite and make effort to help the church bring more people who are in need in and help them know God.
As a church, as a community, and as a whole we should remember that we are all people and are all the same in the eyes of our savior.
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