By the Book

Following Policies and Procedures

Church Safety & Security Volunteer Academy

Policy and procedure books

Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you (Joshua 1:7).

I have done according to all that you have commanded me (Deuteronomy 26:14).

...that without fail they would keep these two days according to what was written and at the time appointed every year (Esther 9:27).

But all things should be done decently and in order (1 Corinthians 14:40).


In the News:

Thankfully, procedures were followed

July 13, 2018, Dallas, Texas - An office employee opening the mail at the First Baptist Church in Dallas found a suspicious white powder in an envelope. The incident was reported to police and Dallas Fire-Rescue. The powder turned out to not be toxic, and the employee was not harmed. Since the nature of the powder was unknown, it was wise to follow the procedure: report it immediately, isolate the substance awaiting identification, and wash of any that has come in contract with the skin. [1]

Safeguards were not established

December 19, 2017, Fincastle, Virginia - The treasurer of a church in Botetourt County who embezzled over $99,000 was sentenced to two years in prison. The money, collected over five years' time, was from funds for assisting those in need. The treasurer was the only one with access to the account through a debit card. Contributing factors enabling the misappropriation of funds included lax bookkeeping and no clear standards for spending. [2]

Protocol in place

August 21, 2018, Hixson, Tennessee - A church operated school received a bomb threat on a Tuesday afternoon just after lunchtime. Immediately, the principal halted classes, evacuated the building, and alerted police. Students and staff were bused to a safe place. The church and school were credited with having emergency protocols in place, which were followed in this incident. [3]

Policies and Procedures Are Necessary

In the Bible texts above, we see references to God's written law, to a civil law, and to conducting church business and services in an orderly manner. In common speech, we should do God's work "by the book."

When it came to the Tabernacle, then the Temple, the "Book" had a lot to say about how they were built and furnished and how services (sacrifices, fasts, and festivals) were conducted. There were requirements and standards for the Priests and the Levites. There were protocols for how offerings were collected and distributed, and for charity. There were also procedures for handling certain illnesses.

For things to be done decently and in order in our churches, we need bylaws (or charters), policies, and procedures. Some of these should concern issues of safety and security. Members of the church safety and security team need to know these policies and procedures and follow them.

Policies and Procedures for Churches

The Sheepdog Church Security Training Bundle "Church Safety / Security Volunteer Academy, v3" [4] has a sample list of policies and procedures for security in a local congregation. Each item has a brief description:

There is more explanation of each of these in the course. This is only a sample; there may be other policies and procedures your church may enact for the specific needs of your congregation.

Following Guidelines

Policies and procedures are guidelines which are more than suggestions. They have been formulated and adopted by the church for a reason - they are to protect the church and its members. For them to be effective, they must be followed, and this is not an option - it is a requirement.

One aspect of an investigation into any serious incident is the question of whether policies and procedures had been faithfully followed. If not, the next question is "Who did not follow them?"

For this reason, Church Safety Team members must learn the policies and procedures of their congregation and follow them. These should be available in a written form so that they can be referenced when needed. Also, team members should be notified of any changes to a policy or procedure. Failure to follow them can result in a reprimand or dismissal from the team.

Principal Resources:

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 Bundles, "Church Safety / Security Volunteer Academy, v3" [https://www.sheepdogchurchsecurity.com/shop/bundles/security_academy.html].

References

  1. Coello, Sara, "Unknown white powder mailed to First Baptist Dallas", Dallas News, The Dallas Morning News, July 13, 2018 [https://www.dallasnews.com/news/crime/2018/07/13/first-baptist-dallas-employee-uninjured-after-opening-envelope-filled-white-powder].
  2. Hammack, Laurence, "Treasurer sent to prison for embezzling nearly $100,000 from Botetourt church", Roanoke Times, Dec 19, 2017 [ [https://www.roanoke.com/news/crime/botetourt_county/treasurer-sent-to-prison-for-embezzling-nearly-from-botetourt-church/article_359e810b-3b00-5515-9244-0feadfc1d387.html].
  3. T.F.P. Staff, "Dallas Bay Baptist students safe after bomb threat, evacuation", Times Free Press, August 21st, 2018 [https://www.timesfreepress.com/news/breakingnews/story/2018/aug/21/students-evacuated/477427/].
  4. Sheepdog Church Security, TrainingBundles, "Church Safety / Security Volunteer Academy, v3" [https://www.sheepdogchurchsecurity.com/shop/bundles/security_academy.html ].