Reasonable Persuasion for Safety Ministry
Proposing and Starting a Church Safety Ministry
Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, “A great multitude is coming against you from Edom, from beyond the sea; and, behold, they are in [Engedi]” (2 Chronicles 20:2).
And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and tried to persuade Jews and Greeks (Acts 18:4).
Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “The dreams of Pharaoh are one; God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do...Now therefore let Pharaoh select a discerning and wise man, and set him over the land of Egypt (Genesis 41: 25-33).
A Change of View
Sam Boulant stood up and said, "When I heard that a gunman shot up a church, killing half the congregation, my first thought was that it was in some place like Pakistan, Indonesia, or Nigeria." He paused, then went on, "Then I heard it was in Texas, so maybe it was in a big city with gang violence, like Houston or El Paso. But no, it was in Sutherlin Springs, a small, out-of-the-way town, where there's hardly any trouble at all. If it could happen there, it could happen anywhere, including here." Sam sat down.
Jim Davis, chairman of the Study Committee for a Church Safety Ministry, asked, "Are there any other questions or comments?"
"Yes," Dan Morely replied, "If we just look at what's going on around here, with break-ins, a fire in the church across town, and the tornado two years ago, we'd see that we need to be ready for those kinds of things and more." Before this meeting, Dan had been skeptical about the need for a safety or security team in the church. The committee's presentation of the need and what the church could do began to change his view, and Sam's remark sealed it.
After a few more minutes, Pastor Marks closed the Information Meeting with prayer. A week later, in a special business meeting, the congregation of Bannon Street Baptist Church would vote on whether to form a Response Ministry and Team.
What Do We Do, Now that We See the Need?
Our Safety Ministry Proposal Team has identified and analyzed the safety and security risks and readiness of the congregation with a Church Security Assessment . What's next? We use the information and analysis to compose the proposal we present to the church leadership. Unless the church is expecting to have a safety ministry, our presentation will be an exercise in persuasion, and the proposal should be written with that in mind.
Persuade Those in Charge with Reason and Patience
A Ruler May Be Persuaded
Whether it is called Board of Trustees, Board (or Council) of Elders, Church Council, Covenant Council, General Committee of Ministries, or some other name, your church's governing body is the "ruler " of that congregation. How does this relate to establishing a church safety ministry?
- First of all, this is supposed to be a ministry of the church, and as such would be under their authority.
- Secondly, a church safety & security ministry needs the full support of the church leadership in general and the governing body in particular.
- Thirdly, church leaders can help in planning and setting up a safety ministry. A few items are the name of the ministry, the dress code, issues regarding armed team members, initial and ongoing costs, and insurance coverage.
- Additionally, the governing body can encourage cooperation and coordination of other ministries with the safety ministry.
Paul tried to persuade people of the Gospel by reasoning with them. It didn't matter whether they were Jews or Gentiles. He used reason. Because of their ethnic and religious distinctions, his reasoning for Gentles differed from that for Jews. Congregations differ, so the ways we persuade them differ. Since we are proposing safety ministries to our own congregations, we should have the advantage of knowing how to reason with our own church leadership.
As urgent as we may see the need, proposing and setting up a safety ministry takes time and requires patience. Two old sayings come to mind: "You walk a mile one step at a time," and "Eat an elephant one bite at a time." Advice on how to do this is in the Sheepdog Church Security Guide .
- Begin with selecting members of the Proposal Team. Recruit like-minded individuals. Good candidates in your congregation may be active and/or former police officers, sheriff's deputies, and firefighters.
- Hone the proposal to focus first on what the congregation will do, the so-called "easy-sell" items. What these are depends on the mindset of the church, whether most are reluctant or accepting of "security" forces in the place. For reluctant congregations, the Security Guide suggests beginning with fireproofing the building and conducting fire drills.
- Plan to put in place first what can be done immediately. A good idea is having someone staying in the foyer to watch during a service. This responder will greet latecomers and keep an eye on the approach to the door. This should be someone already trained in security.
Present the Need
(2 Chronicles 20:2)
King Jehoshaphat was informed by messengers that Judah was being invaded by armies from the East. They presented the situation, and Jehoshaphat saw the need. The king's first response was to go to the Temple and present his case before the Lord. When we present the need to the leadership of the church, their first response should be to seek wisdom from God.
At Bannon Street Baptist Church, the Study Committee made their presentation first to the Board of Trustees, then to the congregation. They were armed with accounts and statistics, both local and from around the country.
Before we get into the how-to of a safety ministry, the pastor and the board should see the need, the "why" of a safety ministry . This works better when addressing those needs this body will respond to. This is why we hone the proposal to present the "easy to sell" concerns as the initial projects. Even though it may be easy to sell, the proposal team researches the safety project so they can present facts and figures to the leadership and the congregation. If any questions are asked, a team member can answer them knowledgably and convincingly.
Present the Solution
When Joseph interpreted Pharaoh's dream, he showed him the opportunity (years of plenty) and the need (years of drought). He then proposed a solution, and was appointed to implement it.
Once we have shown congregational leadership the need for a safety ministry, it is time to present a solution, a plan of action. Show how the congregation as a whole can be part of the plan by providing input and feedback, indentifying safety issues, and participating in fire drills and tornado drills.
The Study Committee showed how a safety ministry would operate at Bannon Street Baptist Church. Besides being ready to prevent or stop violence, it would plan fire drills  and tornado drills , and train church members in life-saving skills .
On to Organization
When our church has chosen to have a safety ministry, we can organize it within the parameters of the church's decision.
The congregation of Bannon Street Baptist Church approved the proposal and organized an Emergency Response Ministry. Jim Davis is the Emergency Response Director, Dan Morely is on the Emergency Response Committee, and Sam Boulant is on the Response Team.
Sheepdog Church Security, Training Bundles, "Turnkey Church Safety Ministry Proposal Kit v3" [https://www.sheepdogchurchsecurity.com/shop/bundles/proposal_kit.html].
- Sheepdog Church Security, Church Security Guide, "Church Security Assessment" [https://sheepdogchurchsecurity.net/church-security-assessment].
- Sheepdog Church Security, Church Security Guide, [https://sheepdogchurchsecurity.net/church-security-guide/].
- W. Vaughn, "See the Need", Sheepdog Church Security, Articles, July 30, 2018 [https://sheepdogchurchsecurity.net/articles/see-the-need/].
- Sheepdog Church Security, Training Bundles, "Arson Prevention and Fire Drills for Churches v3" [https://www.sheepdogchurchsecurity.com/shop/bundles/fire_safety.html].
- Sheepdog Church Security, Online Training, "Arson Prevention and Fire Drills for Churches" [https://sheepdog-church-security.thinkific.com/courses/arson-prevention-and-fire-drills-for-churches].
- Sheepdog Church Security, Training Bundles, "Severe Weather and Natural Disasters v3" [https://www.sheepdogchurchsecurity.com/shop/bundles/severe_weather.html].
- Sheepdog Church Security, Online Training, "Severe Weather and Natural Disasters" [https://sheepdog-church-security.thinkific.com/courses/severe-weather-and-natural-disasters].
- 8. Sheepdog Church Security, Articles, "Training to Respond" [https://sheepdogchurchsecurity.net/articles/ready-to-respond/].
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