And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night. Nehemiah 4:9
During Nehemiah’s rebuilding of the wall around Jerusalem, Sanballat and Tobiah are two activists against the Jewish project. Now when Sanballat heard that we were building the wall, he was angry and greatly enraged and he jeered at the Jews (9:1). And the Ammonite, Tobiah, was beside himself . . . (9:3). In verse 8 we see their plan, And they all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion in it.
I attended a church security conference, “Center for Personal Protection and Safety.” This organization not only works with churches, but with businesses, universities, and government agencies. They shared that there are people inside and outside of the church who want to do harm. They would call Sanballat and Tobiah “DLR’s” – people who “don’t look right.” These sad people desire to create an atmosphere of fear and confusion.
In my long tenure as a Senior Pastor, in every church I have served, there have been folks who want to derail the progress of the church. Like the two agitators in Nehemiah’s day, these present-day folks have frustration, irritation, retaliation, exasperation. In other words, they desire to ignite a firestorm within the church to inhibit the forward advancement of the kingdom of God.
How does a church protect themselves from these inciters? The church should follow Nehemiah’s example – pray and guard or watch. We pray for God’s protection over the church, but also, we are to watch out to see if there are those who want to harm us.
When we see or hear of someone who wants to stall the church from building its wall of worship, ministry, and evangelism to advance God’s kingdom, either we confront the individual privately or share the person’s attitude with the leadership. We are to guard the ministry of the church against such people.
The conference I attended had this advice: 1. Work from a mindset of awareness. (Be on guard or watch for)
2. Don’t ignore behavior of concerns. (Like Tobiah and Sanballat)
3. Learn how to recognize and diffuse potentially harmful actions or violent situations.
4. Alert church leaders to concerns.
5. Have a plan and rehearse your plan.
ABC has already begun gathering quotes for new church doors, securing the nursery and toddler area, upgrading camera equipment, and gathering church security information that we can implement in our church.
May we continue to pray for God’s protection and may we be proactive in protecting our church, growing in Christ, and evangelizing our community.