How to be a Welcoming—But Safe—House of Worship: 9 Tips

By Emily Arndt on March 27, 2024

Houses of worship are open and trusting places. Unfortunately, they can be prime targets for criminals because of this. Here’s what to keep in mind when assessing your church safety and preparing for risks.

Earlier this year, two people were arrested for stealing about $20,000 worth of property from a church in Auburn, California. Last year in Turtle Creek, PA, Total Salvation Ministries increased their security after $12,000 of items were stolen when someone broke through the front door.

Houses of worship are welcoming places to communities, so it’s hard to imagine that people take advantage of that hospitality. But houses of worship have been growing targets over the last several years and, as clergy or staff, it’s important to stay aware of these growing risks and implement safety measures. Not only are burglaries a cause for concern, but, according to the Family Research Council, attacks of hostility against churches doubled between 2022-2023, with a total of 436 incidents reported in 2023.

Here are 9 tips to help protect your house of worship and the contents inside:

  1. Lock away small, expensive items in rooms or cabinets
  2. Store church vehicles in a locked garage when possible
  3. Invest in bright outdoor lighting with motion detection to discourage nighttime thefts
  4. Ensure that windows are shut and locked and shades closed when leaving the property (which keeps valuables out of plain sight)
  5. Place bushes and trees around the property to eliminate hiding places
  6. Install burglar alarms
  7. Keep track of church keys and ensure they’re only in the hands of trustworthy adults
  8. Leave select interior lights on during overnight hours
  9. Develop a list of personal property items and their costs

In case of a burglary, fire, or other damage to your house of worship that would cause you to file a claim, it’s critical to maintain a list of items belonging to your house of worship, and to note their value. This will help make sure that you receive accurate claims compensation and that the process moves as efficiently as possible.

If you don’t have inventory of your personal property, you may not be reimbursed for all losses by the claims adjuster. Keeping a list of items and their costs is also a simple way to help ensure that you have enough insurance coverage to protect those items in the case of a loss. Personal property is anything that, if you took the building(s) and shook it, would fall out.

When making your list of items, consider only adding pieces that aren’t perishable or consumable; ones that are a permanent part of your inventory. List the item and the estimated cost in today’s price terms. SKU numbers are helpful to note if you have them. If you have multiple pieces one type of item, such as prayer books or hymnals, you can list them once and then note the total number you have. It’s also a good idea to list the items by location, so that if only select areas of your house of worship are affected, you know what was in each space.

Check out this free church inventory template from


Pictures or videos may also help when it comes to the claims process, but a list is much more comprehensive and clearer. It’s helpful to have the pictures and videos in addition to the list for rare and high-value items, particularly for those that are irreplaceable.

This can help make sure that high-value items are insured to value. High-value items may include robes, hand bells or other instruments, organs, pianos, A/V equipment and fine art.

It's a best practice to add items to your list as you purchase them so that your work is done ahead of time and nothing is missed, but this isn’t always possible in busy moments. If that’s the case, we recommend updating your inventory list at least once a year in conjunction with spring cleaning and the time when more people return to your house of worship after winter. Remember to also update replacement costs for pre-existing items on the list. It’s helpful to date when you last priced the list so you know how old the valuation is.

Here’s some personal property you may own:

  • Garden fountain
  • Prayer books
  • Pots and pans
  • Sheet music
  • Computers
  • Printers
  • Altar furnishings
  • Lawn equipment
  • Office supplies
  • Tools

Important note: if you make any major purchases between insurance policy renewals, let your agent know in case they need to adjust your policy to take the new item(s) into account.

Finally, when you complete your inventory list, keep it in a location outside of your house or worship, such as on a flash drive or printed and stored somewhere else. Save the files as a word processor document and a PDF.

With the growing threats religious organizations are facing, it’s never been more critical to take these and other measures to help protect your house of worship. It’s especially important to make a personal property list to help you in the event of a claim. Glatfelter offers property coverage for both Real and Personal Property. Learn more about us at

Emily Arndt

Em, a proud cat mom to Margot and Teddy, enjoys learning guitar, the beach, writing, and working on her sarcasm.


The information contained in this blog post is intended for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace expert advice in connection with the topics presented. Glatfelter specifically disclaims any liability for any act or omission by any person or entity in connection with the preparation, use or implementation of plans, principles, concepts or information contained in this publication.

Glatfelter does not make any representation or warranty, expressed or implied, with respect to the results obtained by the use, adherence or implementation of the material contained in this publication. The implementation of the plans, principles, concepts or materials contained in this publication is not a guarantee that you will achieve a certain desired result. It is strongly recommended that you consult with a professional advisor, architect or other expert prior to the implementation of plans, principles, concepts or materials contained in this publication.

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