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Gearing Up for Safety

Building a Church Security Team

“Safety First” words on a yellow sign in the sky

An article based on "Safety Team Fundamentals" (a Safety Member Certification training module) and Introduction to Church Safety and Security, How to Conduct a Risk Assessment, and Church Safety Team Basics (Church Security Guide articles).[1][2][3][4][5]

From the Bible

Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to [guard, protect] thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared (Exodus 23:20).

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall [be secure] that love thee (Psalm 122:6)


Safety & security are now felt needs in many organizations and groups in this country. There is hostility expressed against many social, political, and religious viewpoints and practices, resulting in threats of violence in one form or another. Examples in recent years are acts of vandalism and arson against churches, care facilities, and social groups that are pro-life, assaults on Asians and African Americans, and attacks on synagogues and other Jewish institutions.

As for religious institutions, it doesn't matter what their theologies or their stands on issues are; there is someone out there who may target them. Add other threats to the list - local crime, abuse of children, and insider crime (such as embezzlement). Then there are the perennial threats of fire, medical emergencies, severe weather, and local disasters.

When members of a church see the need for a team to protect the congregation from threats, what can they do to start, organize, and train this team?

In the News

Colleyville, Texas - It is two years since the hostage incident at Congregation Beth Israel. The synagogue now has an armed security team to guard against violence of all kinds. This is needed now more than ever with the rise of antisemitism in America.[6]

Charleston, South Carolina, 2019 - Churches, synagogues, and other places of worship in Charleston have been taking measures to improve security since the 2015 racially-motivated mass murder of nine congregants at Emanuel AME Church. These measures include armed guards (off-duty law enforcement officers as well as volunteers and professionals), locking procedures, trained ushers and greeters, surveillance cameras, etc.[7]

Washington, D.C., April 14, 2022 - Executives of two Department of Homeland Security agencies have co-authored a document outlining ways that religious and community organizations can upgrade their security and safety. "5 Ways to Improve the Safety and Security of Your Place of Worship or Community Spaces" offers the following advice points:

  1. Take Preparedness One Step at a Time, Year Round
  2. Know How to Respond to Threats
  3. Learn More About Resources Available to You
  4. Consider the Nonprofit Security Grant Program
  5. Always Ask for Help

Although the article itself is not long, it has links to other resources.[8]

How do you organize a church security team?

This question is from the "People also ask" section on Google's "church security" search results page. It is a good question. If you want a safety & security ministry in your church, you do need to know how to start, organize, and manage it. The FEMA article is helpful, but we really do need more specific advice in some parts of the process.

The Starting Point

We can begin with Sheepdog Church Security's section Church Security Guide. Immediately following the list of Security Guide articles is the heading, "Developing Your Team" with a self-standing article "How to Start a Church Safety Ministry in 5 Simple Steps." These numbered steps are:

#1 Recruit Like Minded Individuals (Christian Sheepdogs)

#2 Identify Easy-Sell Projects

#3 Schedule a Meeting with the Pastor

#4 Research and Develop

#5 Train and Equip Your Team

Gather the Core Group of Like-Minded Individuals

First find members of the church who also want to start a safety & security ministry or are leaning that way. You may already know some of them, and these can help recruit others. It is this core group that will be the start of keeping watch and patrolling. Sharing concerns about church safety builds a consensus which is the starting point for the safety ministry. Together, you can make your plans.

Know What Sells

What are the safety concerns of most members of the congregation and of the church leadership? As you talk with them - before actually pushing for the safety team - listen to what they say. Parents may worry about their children's safety from abuse. Others may want a fire drill. Of course, news reports of violence create a lot of interest in active shooter response. In some parts of the country, tornado safety is a major issue. Since a safety ministry needs a place to start, it is best to know what will be the easy sell - a common concern that can be quickly addressed, especially if it is not controversial. For most churches this is either fire safety or medical response (First Aid and CPR/AED).

Sell It to Leadership

Once you've identified the safety project you want to begin with, present the proposal to church leadership. For most congregations, this means meeting with the senior pastor or bishop (for some it is the chairperson of the elder board). Depending on the reception, you may indicate that this is the beginning of making the church a safer place where members have the freedom to worship and learn. It is important to have the blessing and cooperation of the church's leaders. After all, the Safety Ministry is to be a ministry of the church.

Research and Plan How to Act

Find out how to carry out the activity. There is information online and in Church Security Guide articles. For instance, how would you conduct a fire drill? Here is where firefighters in the congregation or the local fire department could help. An EMT could help teach CPR and AED use or coach members in using a tourniquet. Whatever it is, it will be an activity the congregation can participate in.

Organize and Train the Team

The first listed Church Security Guide article, "Introduction to Church Safety and Security," tells us that there are two distinct roles for a safety team. The first is basically security, and the second is medical. Later on, Kris tells how a church safety/security ministry is organized. Functionally, this can be described as Policies, Procedures, and Practice:

Church Safety Committee (Policies)

Church Safety Director (Procedures)

Church Safety Team (Practice)

The Church Safety Committee does not have to be large, but should have members of more than one interest area. For example, a teacher, someone with law enforcement experience, a medical professional, the pastor, and the Safety Director. This body formulates safety and security policies and qualifications for Safety Ministry members. Some of the policies are worked out with the relevant departments (such as with the Children's Ministry for child safety). They also set the budget for the Church Safety Ministry and work with the church's governing board on physical changes to the church building (such as more secure doors and windows).

The Church Safety Director, who answers to the Safety Committee, sets the procedures. These say how the policies are carried out. The director also administers the program, recruiting team members, procuring equipment and supplies, making out the schedule, deciding how to conduct patrols, etc. He or she is also in charge of training.

The Church Safety Team, which is under the Safety Director, puts the procedures into practice. They perform safety inspections and patrols, participate in training, keep each other accountable (report violations), respond to emergencies, monitor the premises, and maintain safety equipment.

The Church Security Assessment

The first safety & security project gets the Church Safety Ministry going. Meanwhile, a Church Security Assessment is needed to know what the church's safety condition is - if possible, this might begin before the first activity. This assessment looks at the physical building and grounds, the membership and leadership, what the church has done and is doing, and past safety issues. This will aid in knowing what needs to be done and planning how to do it. Click *HERE* to get the free download, "Practical Steps to Start a Safety Ministry and a DIY Security Assessment."[9]


If you are considering starting a Church Safety Ministry, Sheepdog Church Security has resources to inform and help you.

Training Notes

You can train a new Church Security Team using the Safety Member Certification program from Sheepdog Church Security. It has eight training modules:

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

A person taking each training module and passing its certification test will be a Certified Safety Member for two years. Re-certification every two years will (1) refresh the members' knowledge, (2) update their knowledge, and (3) introduce new information, methods, and equipment.

The three training formats are:

Other Sheepdog Church Security training resources are the Church Security Guide, videocasts on the Sheepdog Church Security Academy channel on YouTube (the audios are on Church Security Roll Call podcasts), and articles posted on the News tab of the Sheepdog Church Security Training Academy.[5][10][11][12]

Kris Moloney also has three books which will be useful in starting and directing a Church Safety Ministry:

Here are excerpts from the descriptions of these books on Amazon:

Defending the Flock - In this ever-changing world, it is becoming more necessary for houses of worship to have some sort of Safety Ministry, a team of volunteers with the sole responsibility of safeguarding the congregation from various risks. To be effective, this team must be well-organized and well-trained.[13]

Active Shooter Mitigation - It has become imperative that churches be prepared (and able) to protect those worshiping within their walls. Today, churches must be prepared to combat violence from all corners.[14]

Shepherding the Sheepdogs - This book is a companion book for Defending the Flock. As a leader, your responsibilities are different than those of your Safety Team. You need to know how to address risks at a much higher level. You also need a brief introduction to the training your safety team is receiving so you understand how they are trained and how they operate.[15]


  1. Kris Moloney, "Safety Team Fundamentals," Safety Member Certification, Sheepdog Church Security, © 2020 [].
  2. Kris Moloney, "Introduction to Church Safety and Security," Church Security Guide, Sheepdog Church Security, © Copyright 2018 [].
  3. Kris Moloney, "How to Conduct a Risk Assessment," Church Security Guide, Sheepdog Church Security, © Copyright 2018 [].
  4. Kris Moloney, "Church Safety Team Basics," Church Security Guide, Sheepdog Church Security, © Copyright 2018 [].
  5. Kris Moloney, Church Security Guide, Sheepdog Church Security, © Copyright 2018 [].
  6. Congregational Leadership, "Regarding the War in Israel," Home, Congregation Beth Israel (Colleyville, TX), 2023 [].
  7. Rickey Ciapha Dennis, Jr., "Years after Charleston church shooting, houses of worship balance hospitality and safety," The Post and Courier, June 22, 2019; Updated September 14, 2020 [].
  8. Marcus Coleman and Mark S. Silveira, "5 Ways to Improve the Safety and Security of Your Place of Worship or Community Spaces," FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Release Date: April 14, 2022 [].
  9. Kris Moloney, "Practical Steps to Start a Safety Ministry and a DIY Security Assessment," Sheepdog Church Security, © Copyright 2019 [].
  10. Kris Moloney, Sheepdog Church Security Academy channel, YouTube [].
  11. Kris Moloney, Church Security Roll Call channel, SoundCloud [].
  12. Kris Moloney, News (Blog), Sheepdog Church Security Training Academy, December 6, 2023 to present [].
  13. Kris Moloney, Defending the Flock: A Security Guide for Church Safety Directors (2nd Edition), Sheepdog Church Security, ISBN: 9798397764636, June 9, 2023 [].
  14. Kris Moloney and Malene Little, Active Shooter Mitigation: A Training Guide for Houses of Worship, Sheepdog Church Security, ISBN: 9781791373481, December 19, 2018 [].
  15. Kris Moloney, Shepherding the Sheepdogs: A Self-Study Guide for Leading a Safety Ministry, Sheepdog Church Security, ISBN: 9798394900297, May 16, 2023 [].