One beautiful Sunday morning, hundreds of people were filing into our second service. I was positioned in our auditorium watching families find seats when I heard the first radio call.
“We may have a situation in the children’s area.”
I recognized the calm but assertive voice of a fellow security team member, and I knew by his tone something wasn’t right. As I entered the hallway, our head of security grabbed my elbow and asked that I get to our surveillance camera room immediately to “get eyes on” what was happening.
The situation unfolding was an estranged father attempting to see his kids despite a restraining order preventing him from doing so.
What’s his plan? Is he trying to take the kids? Is he here to confront his wife? Does he have a weapon? Should we call the police? Those questions were running through my mind as I searched the monitors, trying to identify him in the crowd.
It’s More Common Than You Think
If you think the situation that played out at our church seems like an isolated case, you’re mistaken. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, an average of 20 people are physically abused by intimate partners every minute. This equates to more than 10 million abuse victims annually. According to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center’s numbers, there are somewhere around 900,000 restraining orders issued per year.
Churches often attract people in the highs and lows of life. And it’s during those lows that people bring to church their struggles, addictions, and yes, even threats of violence. The church is faced with the difficult task of delicately balancing the need to minister to people in crisis while also protecting those entrusted to our care.
When the father asked to see the kids that morning, the children’s ministry volunteer politely explained that he’d need the child check-in ticket. When he protested, she politely explained that our policies existed for the protection of his kids and that he could surely appreciate we had their best interests at heart.