By Andrew Joseph
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will remain secure and rest in the shadow of the Almighty [whose power no enemy can withstand]” (Psalm 91:1 AMP)
Church organizations of every size can benefit from the security an access control system provides. Adding door locks and precautionary systems to verify guests will enhance the comfort level of the congregation.
Acts of violence committed against believers have occurred since history has been recorded. During the time of Ester, King Darius of Persia authorized the purging of the Jewish people from the empire (including Ester, his beautiful new Jewish wife). The 1st century Roman government sanctioned and celebrated feeding Christians to lions and burning them in public streets. Jesus says in John 15:20 “…If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you…” (KJV).
These acts of violence can be especially damaging when they occur within the walls of an organization people turn to for peace and strengthening. They strike at the core of who we are. Luckily, we live in modern times.
The 1st amendment of the Unites States Constitution guarantees us the freedom to practice our religion. Thankfully, we are a far cry from the days of Ester and Rome. New technologies are emerging to help secure and enhance sacred walls from the lawlessness taking place in the streets of the communities we are committed to reach.
Is there a good reason not to provide a premium level of security to your congregation when the solutions are seamless and affordable? In 2020, the simple answer is no.
Demystifying Access Control – Fantasy vs. Reality
When we think of access control, it is easy to picture door entry phones, ID badges, metal detectors, x-ray body scanning, fingerprint readers, retina scanners, and high-level surveillance systems that border on espionage. All these solutions have the potential to make a typical church visitor feel extremely uncomfortable.
The implication that access control requires all these devices to be effective is just not accurate. The reality of access control is far less infringing and intimidating.
Allowing the right people to access an area while keeping the unauthorized people out decreases expenses and anxiety. It can help prevent data breaches and unauthorized sharing of members’ information. It can prevent random acts of violence.
The overriding benefit of access control is peace of mind, and in times such as these, what a huge difference that makes. Just imagine the possibilities if an entire congregation is at ease when they come to worship.
Key Parts of an Access Control System
Access control consists of three key components:
- A secure means of access (a door or a gate that includes a locking mechanism)
- A mechanism to verify and allow access to only authorized visitors
- An organized way to keep track of who is authorized
In Acts Chapter 12, Peter is rescued from prison by an angel and goes to the home of Mary “where many were gathering and praying.” Peter knocks on the door (1 – secure means of access) and a young girl comes to verify who the visitor is (2 – mechanism to allow or deny access). The adults do not believe her until they go and see for themselves (3 – a way to organize who is authorized). Finally, Peter is authorized entry (which he does not take, but that is another topic).
These three components are much more technologically advanced today as is the rest of society.
Doors and gates are still fundamentally the same, but perhaps sturdier. Gates can now be equipped with motors. Locks have taken a big step forward in security. Electronic door strikes and magnetic locks are commonplace in sealing entryways.
Verifying visitors has taken a tremendous step forward, as well. Current technologies place cameras and two-way entry phones at doors and gates. Proximity card and badge readers secure office doors across the world in every type of organization.
Biometric readers, fingerprint scans, and retinal scanners – once an imagination of science fiction – are now commonplace and are no longer just reserved for high-security applications. Ingenuity and cost savings have brought these technologies to the masses.
Lastly, the solutions to maintaining an organized list of authorized personnel have also made gigantic leaps. Today’s authorizations are stored natively on hardware or virtually on computer software in the cloud. These lists can be as simple as an Excel spreadsheet or as advanced as a dedicated proprietary technical ecosystem of apps, software, and hardware.
Making Access Control Financially Accessible
The solution you need depends on the result you desire – with the ideal solution lying somewhere between an open-air gazebo and a vault inside Fort Knox.
Access control does not require a monstrous system that costs thousands of dollars to install. Nor does it require contracts, monthly fees, or dedicated staff members to operate and run.
Access control can be simple. As simple as a door phone outside of a secured entry way that rings an existing desk phone in the office. It could be a series of keypads outside secured rooms like custodial closets, childcare, and server rooms that all feed back to a central “brain.” It could even be as simple as a timer that unlocks the doors during church services and office hours and automatically locks them outside of those times.
Regardless of your organization’s budget, there is always a level of access control available to protect your congregation more than it was yesterday.
We live in a time when it is difficult for some people to leave the house due to the fear of violence, the fear of unrest, the fear of sickness. Having a secure location to safely and responsibly gather makes all the difference.
What role does your church have in keeping the ones who do venture out and attend service as safe as possible? Can you weigh the benefit of providing an extra level of comfort to encourage visitors and members to keep coming back?
Andrew Joseph is a product specialist at Viking Electronics, which designs and manufactures over 500 security and communication products, www.vikingelectronics.com.