Guest / Limited Access /

With megachurches come mega crowds, mega money, and increasingly, mega security concerns.

The crowds—anywhere from 2,000 to 20,000 worshippers each weekend—can be an attractive target for a deranged shooter. Overflowing offering plates are tempting to thieves, and well-known preachers can become high-profile targets.

Sunday's shootings at New Life Church in Colorado Springs and a missionary training facility in Arvada, Colo. —which left five people dead, including a gunman—reflect the security nightmares facing some of the country's largest churches. Many of those churches now employ armed guards to protect human, financial and physical "assets."

Brady Boyd, the senior pastor at New Life Church, said an armed guard "probably saved over 100 lives" when she shot and killed the gunman just inside the doors of the Colorado church.

"That's the reality of our world," he told reporters Monday. "I don't think any of us grew up in churches where that was a reality, but today it is."

Boyd said the volunteer guard was put in position after the church heard about the shootings in Arvada. The church has about 15 or 20 guards, some armed, and the guard who killed the gunman used her personal weapon, he said.

Violent crimes remain extremely rare at U.S. churches. Eric Spacek, a senior church risk manager for the GuideOne Center for Risk Management in West Des Moines, Iowa, said crime accounts for just 5 percent of all claims filed by the 40,000 churches insured by GuideOne.

Still, the growth of megachurches has spawned an entire industry devoted to protecting and securing crowds that can be larger than some towns or shopping malls.

Scott Thumma, a megachurch expert at Hartford Seminary and author of Beyond Megachurch Myths, ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Read These NextSee Our Latest
Current IssueNury Vittachi
Nury Vittachi
The Asian columnist employs subversive humor amid religious and government tensions.
RecommendedHow Perry Noble's Alcohol Firing by NewSpring Compares to Other Churches
How Perry Noble's Alcohol Firing by NewSpring Compares to Other Churches
Stats suggest a substantial number of pastors struggle with addiction, but are split on what to do about it.
TrendingDied: Tim LaHaye, Author Who 'Left Behind' a Long Legacy
Died: Tim LaHaye, Author Who 'Left Behind' a Long Legacy
Jerry B. Jenkins: 'Thrilled as I am that he is where he has always wanted to be, his departure leaves a void in my soul.'
Editor's PickPorn Is More Criticized and More Popular Than Ever
Porn Is More Criticized and More Popular Than Ever
There are so many problems with porn; it’s hard to pick just one.
Christianity Today
Colorado Shootings Reflect Big Threats at Big Churches
hide thisAccess The Archives

In the Archives

December 2007

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.