Personal fitness is on many people’s minds at the beginning of a New Year. A recent poll found that 12 percent of those who make New Year’s resolutions want to lose weight, 9 percent want to exercise more, another 9 percent want to eat healthier, and 7 percent want to improve their overall health.
It’s not only individuals who can benefit from these types of goals, however. Churches would also benefit from an evaluation of their overall “fitness.”
There are many aspects of church fitness that many do not take the time to consider, but they could be hurting the health of local churches in the long run.
Church security seems to be on the forefront of many church leaders’ minds lately. Since the horrific shooting last November at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, many pastors and church members are taking a serious look, and rightfully so, into how their church is prepared in the event that their house of worship becomes the target of violence. After attending several conferences with church leaders in the past several weeks, it was clear that churches are looking for ways to protect their congregations without compromising their Gospel message.
The laws that govern church security vary from state to state. For example, Texas recently made a change to its law during the 2017 legislative session that now allows churches and places of worship to utilize volunteers to provide protection detail to secure their buildings and congregations. Prior to the change in the law, Texas churches were required by law to hire outside security, or obtain expensive licensing from the state to classify the church as a private security firm, in order to provide any level of protection for the church. It was a burden that many smaller churches were unable to afford, but now, this law will be benefiting every church in the state.
It is vital that churches take a full circle approach to preparing and protecting themselves. That approach should take into account more than physical protection.
Just as many churches have taken the proactive approach to their church security issues by utilizing available resources to shore up physical readiness, they should be approaching religious liberty challenges with a similar zeal.
Pastors and church leaders should consider what they would do in the event a legal challenge is aimed at the religious liberty of their church.
What would you do as a pastor if you were asked to perform a marriage ceremony that went against your sincerely-held religious beliefs?
How would your church respond to being told by a governmental entity that you were not eligible to apply for a grant – or to enjoy a public benefit – because you are a religious organization?
What would your church do if someone who does not agree with your statement of faith applied to work as a minister of the Gospel?
These are all very real scenarios that churches in America faced in 2017. These scenarios will all too likely be confronting churches in small towns and big cities again in 2018.
If your local church fails to pass the complete fitness test of legal readiness, it could face legal setbacks that also could negatively impact the Church at large.
As with any fitness program, what people need most is a guide. The new ADF Church Alliance is that religious freedom guide for churches. The Church Alliance gives member churches access to a specialized legal team. This team of attorneys will perform a religious liberty audit of your church’s legal documents, strengthening them against any potential religious liberty legal challenge that may come your way. And, in the event a religious liberty suit is filed, the Church Alliance legal team stands ready to defend their rights.
Learn more about how you can be proactive with your church’s legal preparedness in 2018 so you don’t experience the difficulty of being “reactive” later.