Training for Service in Church Safety & Security
Church Safety & Security Volunteer Academy
A wise man is full of strength, and a man of knowledge enhances his might (Proverbs 24:5).
Abram … led forth his trained men (Genesis 14:14).
Blessed be the Lord, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle (Psalm 144:1).
Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus (2 Timothy 2:3).
Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain ... Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well (1 Timothy 3:8-10, 12).
The drill sergeant bellowed, "Ten-hut!" A ragged line of raw recruits stiffened up in some semblance of order. The sergeant moved in on the line close enough to get nose-to-nose with them. He stopped and faced the freckled redhead with a rumpled shirt.
"You, Recruit, what's your name?"
"Samuels, Sir. Jesse Samuels." Jesse tried to not show on the outside his shivering on the inside. Basically shy, he dreaded being pointed out in a group.
Boot camp was as rough as Jesse's dad said it would be. Not as hard as during the Big War, but rough and tough nonetheless. But he was determined to make it through. Dad had quoted the King James Version of Paul's statement to Timothy, "Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ." So far, he understood the "endure hardness" part.
Many of us, especially the older ones, watched "The D.I." starring Jack Webb of "Dragnet" fame . In the end, the one recruit who had given the D.I. the most trouble shaped up. Along the way, Gunnery Sgt. Moore stressed that what the recruits were going through would save lives in real-life situations.
Whatever branch of the Armed Forces a person joins, a recruit has to go through Boot Camp (Basic Training). Law enforcement officers go through Police Academy. Athletic teams have training camps, and in some sports there are rookie camps. This is not confined to the military, law enforcement, and athletics. Most fields of work, paid and volunteer, require some initial orientation and training. Church safety and security is no exception.
When we join or begin work in an organization, including a church safety ministry, there is some kind of orientation: Who we are, what we believe, our mission, our values, what we do. To tell the truth, it is surprising how many church members do not know very much about their church. They may know many of the people, know the building and many of the programs, etc., but not know how their congregation is organized. Some may have only a fuzzy idea of what the church believes.
When persons join the church safety team, they may know something about security in general, have training in self-defense, or even be experienced in law enforcement, the military, or private security. However, they should also know how safety and security is a ministry and how it interacts with their faith and doctrine. Speaking about faith and doctrine, they should know what their church believes and how it relates to defending God's people.
All church safety ministry recruits also need to know how federal, state, and local laws and ordinances apply to safety and security in their congregations.
When a young person signs up for military service, he or she has to meet certain physical and mental qualifications. There are also some disqualifying factors. The same is also true for law enforcement, firefighting, civilian employment, professional occupations, and church safety & security.
Physical, Mental and Academic
Applicants for a church safety team do not have to meet the same physical standards as military recruits, nor the same mental and academic standards as doctors, lawyers, or accountants. But they do need to be able to do the physical aspects of the job, to read and understand policies and instructions, and to file reports.
Since the role of a safety ministry is not preaching, teaching, and spiritual guidance and leadership, its members are deacons, those who provide practical service to the church and its members (the Greek word for deacon [diakonos] is also translated as "servant"). The first church deacons in Acts served tables and took food to widows and orphans.
Today's deacons do charity work, visit the sick, help the elderly and shut-ins with yard work and home maintenance, etc. They also protect the flock from natural and human-caused hazards as well as crime.
As deacons, safety ministry volunteers must meet the qualifications of deacons as listed in the New Testament (Acts 6:3; 1 Tim. 3:8-13). Here's how Paul describes them:
Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. Their wives* likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. Let deacons each be the husband of one wife,** managing their children and their own households well (1 Timothy 3:8-10, 12).
*Literally, Wives or Women.
**Literally, a one-woman man.
The inclusion of "wives" or "women" suggests that there were both deacons and deaconesses in the early church - Acts and Paul's letters seem to name a few deaconesses. From the description of Tabitha (Dorcas) in Acts 9:36-41, it appears that she could be described as a deaconess. Therefore, this applies to men and women in a church safety ministry.
Here is a bullet list of these qualifications:
- Honest in speech (also not a gossiper)
- Sober (not drunkards)
- Not greedy
- Faithful believers
- Clear conscience
- Proven in action
- Blameless (reputable)
- Faithful to spouse (if married)
- Manage household well
Members of a church's safety and security ministry should be members and/or regular attenders of that church.
They should be faithful, supportive of the church's leadership and ministries. By the way, this does not mean blind allegiance. If someone in church leadership does something wrong, the Church Safety Ministry should report them to the governing body, also to law enforcement if it is a violation of the law. For members of the Safety Team, this goes through the Safety Director.
A church safety team member should participate in worship and other church activities.
Some things should disqualify a person from serving in the safety ministry. Among these are a felony conviction, misrepresentation on the application, and refusal to submit to a background check.
As with all position of service, there are certain responsibilities. Key to these are ethics and conduct, as well as priorities.
Ethics and Conduct
We naturally expect someone in a position of trust - such as security - to be honest and ethical in their conduct. We also expect good character in how they perform their duties. Those listed in the ChurchSafety / Security Volunteer Academy  are:
- Honor others above yourself.
- Perform all duties completely, correctly, and on time.
- Be an example for others.
- Be faithful.
- Be wise.
- Be discrete.
There are a few essential priorities for a Church Safety Team member:
- Attend church services
- Spend time with families
- Participate in training
- Serve during services
- Serve at large events
A previous article, "Recruit the Crew" , explains these more fully.
Policies and Procedures
Basic training for Church Safety and Security also means learning what policies and procedures should be followed. A sample of these includes:
- Identifying Personnel
- Supporting Ministry
- Volunteer Schedule
- Cash/Offering Security
- Bomb Threats
- Incident Reports
Learn the Ropes
The phrase "learning the ropes" comes from the days of sailing ships. Sailors used ropes to spread and control the sails. This is the "how to" of training, the part most new members want to get to.
Some of the key skills for church safety and security are verbal de-escalation, unarmed self-defense, radio communication, conducting drills (such as for fire, tornadoes, and lockdowns), and life-saving procedures (CPR, AED, First Aid, and stopping bleeding). These skills are learned in later training, after the Church Safety and Security Volunteer Academy.
Sheepdog Church Security, Online Training, "Church Safety and Security Volunteer Academy" [https://sheepdog-church-security.thinkific.com/courses/church-safety-and-security-volunteer-academy].
Sheepdog Church Security, Training Bundle, "Church Safety / Security Volunteer Academy, v3" [https://www.sheepdogchurchsecurity.com/shop/bundles/security_academy.html].
- IMDb, "The D.I. (1957)" [https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0050283/].
- Wikipedia, "Dragnet (franchise)" [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dragnet_(franchise)].
- Sheepdog Church Security, Training Bundles "Church Safety / Security Volunteer Academy, v3" [https://www.sheepdogchurchsecurity.com/shop/bundles/security_academy.html].
- Sheepdog Church Security, Articles [https://sheepdogchurchsecurity.net/articles/recruit-the-crew/].