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More Courses, Refreshers

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Basic Training for a Church Safety Ministry

Based on the Church Safety and Security Volunteer Academy [1]

In the Bible

Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them (Psalm 111:2).

Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance (Proverbs 1:5).

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

A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher (Luke 6:40).

Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths (Psalm 25:4).

In the News

Armed attacks on people of faith and places of worship have been headline news more frequently in recent years. These include 26 killed at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas on November 5, 2017, eleven killed at a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on October 25, 2018, and 51 killed by one gunman at two mosques in New Zealand on March 15, 2019, followed ten days later by an arson attack on a California mosque, then a shooting the following month at a California synagogue which left one dead. Most of the attacks in recent years have been on churches, but religious institutions in general are now targets.

Seeking Safety

Places of worship in the United States are no longer taken for granted as sanctuaries from violence. Many are seeking protection from armed attackers. Large congregations may be able to hire off-duty police officers or private security firms to guard their churches. Medium-to-small churches cannot afford that, so they make arrangements ranging from two or three individuals with cell phones stationed in the foyer and the hallway during Sunday morning services to a team of volunteers with two-way radios.

In some congregations, these volunteers (or some of them) are armed, while in other churches they are unarmed. In either case, there are certain liability issues to consider, both civil and criminal, even for unarmed volunteers. This highlights the need for a stable organization, commonly understood rules of the road (policies and procedures), and training.

There is also the need for insurance protection. In fact, providers of liability insurance are encouraging churches to conduct security and safety programs in a way which not only protects the church, but reduces its liability. Key components of this liability abatement are accountability, policies and procedures, and training.

A TIME Magazine article, "In Wake of Mass Shootings, Churches Arm and Train Congregants," reports on how churches are training armed volunteers in active shooter responses. It describes training in a church-operated program in Texas. The article also notes that the overall training extends to verbal de-escalation.

Training for Church Safety & Security

Gone are the days when the mayor just pins a badge on a trusted citizen and says, "Now you're the town marshal. Go get 'em." Today city police, sheriff's deputies, state troopers, and other law enforcement officers have police academy training. This is not just once, for many of them. Additional training follows, including refreshment and updating of previous training, as well as specific training related to changes in federal and state laws and standards.

Training of law enforcement officers was originally an offshoot of military training. In this country, military training began with Baron von Steuben from Germany training the Continental Army during the American Revolution. For police, besides weapons training, tactics, and drills, this training included laws the officers were to enforce. Now law enforcement personnel are also trained in verbal de-escalation and life-saving techniques. Church security teams were first organized by active and former law enforcement officers.

Some training is required for most church safety and security teams - it should be for all. The real questions are, "What training is needed?" and "Where can we find it?" If you search online for church security training, you will find many companies and organizations offering church safety and security training. Some of the organizations are groups of churches. Some are branches of for-profit security training companies who have added church security to their offerings. Some are insurance companies offering training materials. Some are independent organizations formed for the purpose of promoting safety and security in places of worship, but which are not controlled or dominated by any particular denomination or church.

Sheepdog Church Security Training

You will notice that Sheepdog Church Security shows up on the search results. It is an organization with a broad spectrum of training for church safety and security ministries. Its site pages, online articles, and training courses are often among the top five search results for queries about church safety.

Basic Training

Sheepdog Church Security's training courses cover a broad spectrum of topics on safety and security. The spear-point course is the Church Safety and Security Volunteer Academy. This is the initial course which all safety team members should take, the church safety & security equivalent of Boot Camp. The course covers the basics, such as sheep or wolves, qualifications and restrictions, application and selection processes, policies and procedures, radio use, and patrolling and reporting.

Other Training

The other courses are more specialized. The topics covered are active shooter response, use of force, verbal de-escalation, child protection, severe weather, and fire prevention/drills. Sheepdog Church Security (SDCS) also has a bundle of all the courses in one package.

Topics without Courses at This Time

The training courses do not cover everything. Topics not covered include access control/theft prevention, weapons qualifications, medical response (First Aid/CPR/AED), and unarmed self-defense. Training in the last two topics is best done in person and on site.

Refreshing and Updating

Sheepdog Church Security recommends taking refresher courses regularly. All the courses should be offered annually. First, members can refresh their training, reinforcing what they have already learned. Certification in the subject areas is good for two years, so a safety team member should refresh and be re-certified every two years. Secondly, training can be brought up-to-date, reflecting changes in laws, data, and methods.

These courses are available in two formats: for classroom instruction and for individual training. You do not want a new member to wait for several months or almost a year before being able to take the Church Safety and Security Volunteer Team Academy. This and the other courses are available for individual training. If the new member can complete all the courses in 45 days, all the courses are available in one package, the Complete Church Security Training System in the individual training online format (see below).

All Courses

Here are all the currently available SDCS training courses:

Training Course
Training bundle (for class)
Individual Training (online)

Church Safety and Security Volunteer Team Academy

Arson Prevention and Fire Drills for Churches

Active Shooter Neutralization and Lock Down Drills

Protecting Children from Sexual Abuse

Protecting Yourself and the Church with Use of Force Laws

Severe Weather and Natural Disasters

Dealing with Disruptive Persons using Verbal Deescalation

Complete Church Security Training System

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Training Resources

Not all training is in courses. Kris Moloney, the founder of Sheepdog Church Security, has two books (so far) on safety and security for churches. They are Defending the Flock: A Security Guide for Church Safety Directors[3] and Active Shooter Mitigation: A Training Guide for Houses of Worship[4]. Both are available in the Sheepdog Church Security Store on Amazon.

There Is More

Other articles in this series on the Church Safety and Security Volunteer Academy are "Orientation" (Starting Right), "Setting It Straight" (Policies and Procedures), "Communication" (Radio Use and Reporting), "Making the Rounds (Patrolling), and "Access Control" (A Key to Security).


  1. Kris Moloney, "Church Safety and Security Volunteer Academy," Sheepdog Church Security Training Courses, Training Bundle (Classroom) []; Individual (Online) Training [].
  2. Jake Bleiberg, "In Wake of Mass Shootings, Churches Arm and Train Congregants," TIME Magazine, August 17, 2019 [].
  3. Kris Moloney, "Defending the Flock: A Security Guide for Church Safety Directors," Sheepdog Church Security, © 2017 [].
  4. Kris Moloney, "Active Shooter Mitigation: A Training Guide for Houses of Worship," Sheepdog Church Security, © 2018 [].