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On a Mission

Roles of Church Safety-Security Team Members

seven people of all races and genders standing together

This article is based on the Safety Member Certification training module "Safety Team Fundamentals."[1]

From the Bible

* Priests and Levites resumed their responsibilities after the Exile

They kept also the feast of tabernacles, as it is written, and offered the daily burnt offerings by number, according to the custom, as the duty of every day required (Ezra 3:4).

* Our duty as humans:

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

* Joseph became an administrative guard in the prison:

And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph's hand all the prisoners that were in the prison; and whatsoever they did there, he was the doer of it (Genesis 39:22).

* Guards on patrol found a young woman looking for her suitor.

The watchmen that go about the city found me: to whom I said, “Saw ye him whom my soul loveth?” (Song of Solomon 3:3)


When we start a new job or move to a new position, we have a new job description. This tells what is expected of us in that position. Besides what we are to do, the items on the list may also include qualifications, the chain of command, appearance, attitudes, how to relate to customers and clients, and relations with other workers. The goal of all these stipulations is to achieve the mission of the organization or business.

All of this applies to church safety and security ministries, whether the personnel are called "safety team members" or "security guards" or something else. Each safety/security ministry should have stated expectations for its members so the mission of the team supports the mission of the church. Each Safety Team member knows that he or she is "on a mission."

In the News

Brevard, North Carolina, March 14, 2021 - About 10:30 on Sunday morning a church security guard on patrol found a suspicious device outside the church and alerted the police. It was between the church and a county service building. Police found several other devices in the downtown area. These were home-made pipe bombs. Some of them had detonated, doing little more than making noise. However, persons could have been injured if they had been close enough and exposed, so this discovery may have saved lives or at least avoided injuries.[2]

Clarksville, Tennessee, February 9, 2022 - About 6:00 on a Wednesday evening, an elderly woman waiting for the mid-week meeting was sitting alone in a pew. Two younger women came in and sat down beside her. One of these younger women asked the older one to pray with her. As they had their heads bowed with eyes closed, the other younger woman looked through the older one's purse, taking out her wallet. When the prayer ended, the younger women left. After the old woman discovered that she had been robbed, she called for help. The theft was recorded by surveillance cameras. Later, the thieves tried to use the victim's credit cards at two stores.[3]

* If an alert Safety Team member had been posted in the sanctuary before the service, he or she might have been able to spot the incident and become suspicious.

Brandon, Florida, June 12, 2022 - About 6 pm on a Sunday, a man followed two girls under 12 years of age out of a restaurant near a park. He did not know the girls, and they did not know him. When they knew they were being followed and he hit one over the head, they rode their bikes to a nearby church where members were gathering for the evening meeting. At the church, the man followed them and grabbed one girl. He told church members standing there that they were his daughters. As he held the girl in a headlock, she mouthed, "Help me! Not my dad." The church members intervened, one of them calling 911. The man left, but was soon arrested nearby by responding officers.[4]

* Church Safety Team members should be alert to signs that someone is in trouble.

Roles to Play

Church Safety Team members (also called "church security guards") have several roles to play while keeping congregants and the building(s) safe from various threats. These roles are their duties while on the job. Simply listed, these include watcher, patroller, building inspector, peacekeeper, greeter and guide, escort, defender, fire preventer/fighter, medical responder, etc. We'll briefly describe some of these roles as they are covered in "Safety Team Fundamentals."


This is what most people would say is the role of a church security guard. It is true that safety team members must always be watchful and observant. That has always been the job of guards - in the Old Testament they are called "watchmen." It is when a team member spots a potential problem that they can respond, such as intervening and alerting others.


Guarding a place is not all done standing in one place, such as a gate, a doorway, the corner of a room, or a platform. Even monitoring security cameras is not enough, because some things are seen only up close and in person. Someone needs to patrol the buildings, inside and outside.

An old example of patrols is in the Song of Solomon. The young woman Prince Solomon was wooing came into Jerusalem and walked the streets looking for him. She was found by watchmen on patrol, so she asked them where he was.

In Brevard, NC, a security team member was outside the church building when he found a pipe bomb and called the police.[2] Security guards on patrol have also found signs of attempted break-ins, a man waiting to grab a child, fire hazards, etc.

Building Inspector

A Church Safety Team member on patrol looks at the building itself. Does anything need repair? Is something missing? Is this a safety or security hazard? Examples of hazards include torn carpet, loose ceiling tiles, cords across hallways, unstable cabinets, etc.


People are people. They can get upset and short-tempered. That's when a safety-security person can be a peacekeeper. The skill for this is verbal de-escalation. The goal for this is to cool down heated tensions and de-fuse a situation before it becomes disruptive - or even violent.

There are times when de-escalation does not work and a disruptive person needs to be removed from the premises. Sometimes they will leave when asked, but there are times when a disrupter has to be escorted out. Self-defense skills also include come-along escort holds. These are not always needed, but a security guard learns them just in case they are.*

* The relevant Safety Member Certification classes are "Deescalating Disruptive Persons" and "Basic Use of Force Laws."

Greeter and Guide

If you are marked as a member of the Church Safety Team, you represent the church, and it is important to be friendly and helpful. If visitors need directions, such as to a certain class or to the restroom, they are likely to ask you. In many churches, greeters and ushers are part of the safety teams or trained in the safety/security parts of their jobs.

Greeting people invites them into conversation. This is an opportunity to observe them more closely to discern their personalities and to look for signs of weapons.*

* The relevant Safety Member Certification class is "Security Team Fundamentals."


In many locations, it is a good idea for a security guard or safety team member to escort ushers taking an offering to the counting room or office. Depending on the church, a team member may be needed to witness the counting. This is usually to "keep honest people honest," but now church robberies are more common and a deterrent is advisable.

* The relevant Safety Member Certification class is "Security Team Fundamentals."


This is what many think is the exciting role of a safety team member or security guard - some seem to think it's the only role. In real life, we try to avoid the need for an active defense, but a guard must be ready if defense is needed. This is not always using deadly weapons (firearms or edged/pointed devices). The guard or safety team member should be trained in unarmed defense and how state and local laws apply to citizen's arrest.*

* The relevant Safety Member Certification class is "Basic Use of Force Laws."

Fire Preventer/Fighter

Church Safety Team members must recognize fire hazards and know how to mitigate them. They learn how to put out small fires and to conduct an evacuation. This also means leading in fire drills.

Fire extinguishers are checked by guards on patrol and inspected periodically. The entire team, along with others in the church, should be trained in using a fire extinguisher.*

* The relevant Safety Member Certification class is "Arson and Fire Safety."

Medical Responder

Medical emergencies can happen at any time, so security guards and safety team members should know how to respond. Key skills are First Aid, bleeding control (e.g. Stop the Bleed), Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), and using an Automated External Defibrillator (AED).*

* The relevant Safety Member Certification class is "Mass Trauma Emergencies."


Members of church safety or security teams must know their roles and be trained to fulfill them.

Training Resources

Sheepdog Church Security has resources for training Church Safety Team members.

Safety Member Certification

The principle resource is the Safety Member Certification program. It has eight training modules (classes): Safety Team Fundamentals, Active Shooter Response, Deescalating Disruptive Persons, Protecting Children from Abuse, Basic Use of Force Laws, Arson and Fire Safety, Storms and Disasters, and Mass Trauma Emergencies. The roles and duties of team members are described in the first one, "Safety Team Fundamentals." The others train members in how to carry out some of these duties. A student taking all classes and passing the certification test for each will be certified for two years. Re-certification will refresh the training, update information, introduce new methods and technologies, and cover changes in laws and regulations.[1]

Training is available in three formats:

Team Certification (church-hosted classes) are ideal for training a new team or re-certifying an existing team. Materials for the instructor and the students can be downloaded.

Individual Certification (self-paced online instruction) lets a new safety team member or security guard be trained without waiting for months (or over a year) for team certification. It can also be used if a member has to miss a class or two.

Online Events (live Zoom classes) are held on Sunday afternoons at 3:00 pm Central Time. Kris Moloney is the instructor. The 2023-2024 school year is in progress - see the schedule below:





Training Module


Sep 10

Nov 12

Jan 28

Mar 24

Safety Team Fundamentals


Sep 17

Nov 19

Feb 4

Apr 7

Active Shooter Response


Sep 24

Dec 3

Feb 11

Apr 14

Deescalating Disruptive Persons


Oct 1

Dec 10

Feb 18

Apr 21

Protecting Children from Abuse


Oct 8

Dec 17

Feb 25

Apr 28

Basic Use of Force Laws


Oct 15

Jan 7

Mar 3

May 5

Arson and Fire Safety


Oct 22

Jan 14

Mar 10

May 19

Storms and Disasters


Nov 5

Jan 21

Mar 17

Jun 2

Mass Trauma Emergencies

Church Security Guide

Another training resource is the Church Security Guide with its nine articles, including "Church Safety Team Basics." These articles provide deep overviews of the topics and are useful for previewing a subject before taking a class and reviewing/refreshing the topic later on.[5][6]

Security Guide Articles

Videocasts and Podcasts

Kris discusses articles (usually Lessons Learned from Deadly-Force Attacks), covers special topics, and interviews security experts on Sheepdog Church Security Academy videocasts. The audios are on Church Security Roll Call podcasts. The videocast website now has a blog ("News" tab) with weekly and Security Guide articles.[7][8]


  1. Kris Moloney, "Safety Team Fundamentals," Safety Member Certification, Sheepdog Church Security, © 2020 [] .
  2. News Staff, "Church security guard in Brevard finds 'suspicious device'; multiple other devices found in area, police say," WYFF, March 15, 2021 [] .
  3. Luke Gentile, "WATCH: Thieves rob elderly woman in church after asking to pray with her," Washington Examiner, February 18, 2022 [] .
  4. Jeff Patterson, "Attempted child abduction stopped by FishHawk Ranch church members, deputies say," WFLA, June 14, 2022; Updated: June 20, 2022 [] .
  5. Kris Moloney, Church Security Guide, Sheepdog Church Security, © 2018 [ ].
  6. Kris Moloney, "Church Safety Team Basics," Church Security Guide, Sheepdog Church Security, © 2018 [] .
  7. Kris Moloney, Sheepdog Church Security Academy channel, YouTube [] .
  8. Kris Moloney, Church Security Roll Call channel, SoundCloud [] .