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Back to School

Training for Safety

Teachers having a training meeting in preparation of school starting.

Based on the Safety Member Certification program.[1]

From the Bible

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15).

A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels (Proverbs 1:5).

Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning (Proverbs 9:9).

Shew me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths (Psalm 25:4).


Now it is late in August. By this time, most school districts in the U.S. have started classes. With the end of summer vacations, more Church Safety Team members are present every Sunday. And with the winding down of summer events, there is less demand for extra security details. This means more time for church safety & security training classes with more team members available to participate. September, then, will be a good back-to-school time for a Church Safety Team.

In the News

* More churches are training volunteers for safety & security:

Jackson County, Florida, July 16, 2022 - Rivertown Community Church in Marianna hosted a 3-hour church safety class, open to all churches in the area. Key points in the class were situational awareness and how to spot problems.[2]

Corpus Christi, Texas, February 27, 2018 - A United Methodist Church in Corpus Christi held classes in active shooter response on a Tuesday The two classes, at 2 PM and 6:30 PM, were two hours each. They were open to staff from other UM churches and from non-profit daycare centers.[3]

Tucson, Arizona, January 2020 - Two organizations, Arizona Church Security Network and ICSAVE (Integrated Community Solutions to Active Violence Events), were holding active killer training in host churches in Tucson. The training included skills in survival, killer engagement, lockdowns, and medical response.[4]

Colorado Springs, Colorado, Early March, 2020 - In an article for Religion Unplugged and MinistryWatch, Paul Glader and Michael Ray Smith used the live-action shooter response training at a Colorado Springs church as an example of the kind of training being done in churches, The increase in active killer training and armed response is spurred by new coverage of violence in places of worship. For example, those in the Colorado church watched a video of the White Settlement incident at the end of 2019 and analyzed the actions and the situation.[5]

Johnson City, Tennessee, 2016 - Over a period of years, a church in Johnson City had been adding security measures, beginning with locking doors to the children's area, installing cameras, etc.

In 2015, spurred by the Charleston massacre, they decided to form an official security team. They asked the sheriff to walk through their building and assess it for security. Then they felt the need to help other churches know what to do to make their sites secure. .In April 2016, they hosted security training by the sheriff's department for the leaders of all participating churches.[6]

Knox County, Tennessee, December 2, 2017 - The Knox County Sheriff's Office led a seminar in a local church with leaders from places of worship in the county. There they shared safety tips and practical measures to increase security. This followed a wave of concern triggered by the Sutherland Springs church shooting in the preceding month when 26 persons were killed.[7][8]

East Tennessee, December 30, 2019 - The day after the church shooting in White Settlement, Texas, many churches in East Tennessee focused more on security. There was already a network of churches with security teams. A key element in their safety and security measures is training.[9]

* Insurance companies are urging churches to take protective measures:

Fort Wayne, Indiana, no date - Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company urges churches to establish and train church safety teams. They have posted a recorded webinar on this subject, Church Safety & Security: Building and Training Your Team. The presenters are Bob Johnson and Corinne Cable, JD. The page on which the webinar is embedded has links to two articles and another webinar:

Videocasts and Free Downloads

Kris Moloney discusses several articles in a Sheepdog Church Security Academy videocast (the audio is on a Church Security Roll Call podcast). Beneath the video screen is a link to the Show Notes (article summary) for the latest covered article, either "Weekly Show Notes" or "Lessons Learned Download."[11][12]

A free resource download is the "Reports and Forms Bundle" for the Church Safety Team. These are necessary for team management and accountability. It includes five forms:

The Safety Director, Safety Team Lead, or Safety Office Assistant can print these forms to have them on hand when needed. Click *HERE* to get the "Reports and Forms Bundle."

Ready for School

From Kindergarten to doctoral studies, when students arrive for the first day of the first semester, the school itself has been readied. Through the summer, maintenance and custodial staff have been cleaning, repairing, and updating the facilities. Administrators have filled vacancies, checked that the teachers' continuing education is up-to-date, secured needed class materials and supplies, etc. Teachers have found out what their assigned classes are, begun making lesson plans, and got the classrooms ready. Now that sounds exhausting to some of us. Whew!

At Sheepdog Church Security, we are ready. Some high school and college students took summer classes. Safety Member Certification classes are available through the summer, The one training format not in session during summer is Online Events. It will resume this fall. You can register now.

Training Is Critical

All teams have to train and practice to work effectively. Teamwork doesn't work well when team members don't really understand what they are doing, know what their roles are, and know how to coordinate with the other members. Even when the safety team is composed of law enforcement officers, they need training in the specifics of working in a church, especially the one they're in.

When team members train together, they all learn the same thing. It also contributes to their teamwork. We can draw an analogy with sports teams. Even if the team has the same members it had the previous season, they still need to refresh their training and practice together. Then too, the coach has made some changes (updates) in their plays and strategies. That said, for a Church Safety Team it is also important to review the basics, That is something no team - sports or church safety - can afford to forget. We'll never be so far advanced that basics no longer matter.

How to Train

There are many training methods and contexts. Each has its own advantages.

The oldest form of teaching is one-on-one training, including mentoring and tutoring. We see this in a parent teaching a child. This includes example, words of advice, correction, and working together. It is very relational, On the safety team, the team leader or a more experienced member can mentor newer members, going with them on the first patrol, helping them to fill out incident reports, asking what they see as a visitor comes in, etc.

We are all familiar with classroom training. The first training format in the Safety Member Certification program is Team Certification. These church-hosted classes are led by an instructor. Rather than try to cover everything at once, there are eight training modules (classes) on different aspects of church safety meeting at different times. In a classroom, all the team members are learning the same things at the same time. There is classroom discussion, interaction with the instructor, and role playing.

With Individual Certification the student does not have to be present in a classroom. If a member has to miss a class for some reason, taking the training module online lets him or her keep up with the team. This can train a new member immediately without waiting months for a class. The self-paced student can also take one module after another (passing the tests in-between) and finish the course in a matter of a week or two instead of taking at least two months to do it.

One advantage of individual instruction is that a student can learn from home or the office undistracted. However, that student is also missing interaction with the instructor and the other students.

During the pandemic with its restrictions on in-person classes, individual studies online expanded, but the classroom experience also took a new form, using Zoom and other online conference platforms. Sheepdog Church Security entered the world of live Zoom classes with Online Events. These combine the at-home benefit of Individual Certification with the interactions of Team Certification. This format, open to both individuals and teams, expanded to four quarters in the 2022-2023 school year (season). The 2023-2024 season of Online Events begins on September 10. These classes are held on Sunday afternoons at 3:00 pm Central Time.






Training Module


Sep 10

Nov 12

Jan 28

Mar 24

Safety Team Fundamentals


Sep 17

Nov 19

Feb 4

Apr 7

Active Shooter Response


Sep 24

Dec 3

Feb 11

Apr 14

Deescalating Disruptive Persons


Oct 1

Dec 10

Feb 18

Apr 21

Protecting Children from Abuse


Oct 8

Dec 17

Feb 25

Apr 28

Basic Use of Force Laws


Oct 15

Jan 7

Mar 3

May 5

Arson and Fire Safety


Oct 22

Jan 14

Mar 10

May 19

Storms and Disasters


Nov 5

Jan 21

Mar 17

Jun 2

Mass Trauma Emergencies

What Is Certification?

Certification is a formal (official) recognition that someone is qualified by meeting certain criteria. There are many professionals who are required to have state certification, such as physicians and nurses, dentists, pharmacists, insurance agents, teachers, EMTs, and (in most states) security guards.

In the Safety Member Certification program, a student that takes every class and passes its certification test is certified for two years. That is the standard certification period for some other kinds of certifications, such as First Aid, CPR and/AED, lift truck operator, etc. It is important for these certified persons to maintain their knowledge and skills. In re-certification, they can also be brought up-to-date in their fields.

This is true in safety and security for schools and places of worship. For example, life-saving techniques are constantly being improved. In another example, use-of-force laws in any one state may change, as well as laws and regulations relating to child abuse.

The Basics

What is a "Lombardi moment"? At the beginning of a Green Bay Packers training camp, he held up the ball and said, "Gentlemen, this is a football." In any training program it is important to start with the basics. Even highly advanced programs will have at least a mention or a review of the basics. The basics are indispensable, fundamental.

The first Safety Member Certification training module is "Safety Team Fundamentals." It covers a lot, so much so that in a church-hosted class it should be taught in two sessions. The basic outline for the class is:

Safety Ministry Basics

  1. Patrol Procedures
  2. Additional Safety Procedures
  3. Responding to Challenges
  4. Radio Procedures
  5. Forms and Reports

When a team member has taken this class, it is not the end. Here is a full list of the training modules:

Safety Team Fundamentals

  1. Active Shooter Response
  2. Deescalating Disruptive Persons
  3. Protecting Children from Abuse
  4. Basic Use of Force Laws
  5. Arson and Fire Safety
  6. Storms and Disasters
  7. Mass Trauma Emergencies

That is a lot to learn, considering how much there is in each class. Safety Directors should see to it that all Safety Team members are trained and certified and that the first course they take is "Safety Team Fundamentals."

Another SDCS Training Resource

Not all learning is by direct teaching, Sheepdog Church Security has another resource to help you learn about safety & security - the Church Security Guide. Its nine article give the reader an in-depth view of the various topics:

Introduction to Church Safety and Security

  1. How to Conduct a Risk Assessment
  2. Church Safety Team Basics
  3. Fire Safety in the Church
  4. Preparing Your Church for Natural Disasters
  5. Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults in the Church
  6. Self Defense Laws, Your Rights and Use of Force
  7. Disruptive Individuals: How to De-escalate the Situation
  8. Church Safety Teams and Active Shooter Training

It covers every subject in the training modules except medical response.[13]

Get Ready

If safety team training in your church has been suspended for the summer, get ready to restart it in September. Now is the time to enroll members who need training. If holding in-person classes, order and download the materials now at the Sheepdog Church Security Training Academy. Go down to "Church Hosted Training (DIY)."[1]


It is Back-to-School time. A well-trained Church Safety Team is needed to keep the church safe and secure. For them it is Back to Training.

On Deck

"Continuing Education" (Worship Security Association) is ondeck for next week.


  1. Kris Moloney, "Safety Team Fundamentals," Safety Member Certification, Sheepdog Church Security, © 2020 [].
  2. Ramsey Romero, "Jackson Co. church to hold church safety training," WJHG, July 13, 2022 [].
  3. KZTV News Staff, "Local church holds active shooter training classes," KZTV Action 10 News, February 23, 2018, accessed on YouTube [].
  4. Luzdelia Caballero, "Free active shooter training in places of worship," KGUN 9, January 8, 2020 [].
  5. Paul Glader and Michael Ray Smith, "God And Guns: More Churches and Ministries Turn To Armed Security Teams for Protection," Ministry News at MinistryWatch, June 9, 2020 [].
  6. Becky Campbell, "Church security seminar to teach leaders safety measures," Johnson City Press, March 3, 2016 Updated July 5, 2020 [].
  7. WGV, "2017 Sutherland Springs Church Shooting (Lesson Learned from a Church Shooting)," Articles, Sheepdog Church Security, July 05, 2022 ]].
  8. WBIR News Staff, "KCSO holds safety seminar to teach safety techniques in churches," WBIR, December 2, 2017 [].
  9. Sean Franklin, "East TN churches encourage renewed focus on security after TX shooting," WBIR, December 30, 2019 [].
  10. Bob Johnson and Corinne Cable, JD, "Church Safety & Security: Building and Training Your Team," Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company, NO DATE [].
  11. Kris Moloney, Sheepdog Church Security Academy, YouTube [].
  12. Kris Moloney, Church Security Roll Call, SoundCloud [].
  13. Kris Moloney, Church Security Guide, Sheepdog Church Security, © 2018 [].