Recruit the Crew

Building Your Safety Team

Proposing and Starting a Church Safety Ministry

Stacking blocks with images of people on them

You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to do it alone (Exodus 18:18).

And when day came, [Jesus] called his disciples and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles (Luke 6:13).

And the king lamented for Abner, saying, “Should Abner die as a fool dies?" (2 Samuel 3:33).

When Priscilla and Aquila heard [Apollos], they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately (Acts 18:26).


A Tale of Two Churches

Two churches, in cities 766 miles apart as the crow flies, had similar violent experiences with different outcomes. These incidents happened about two months shy of ten years apart.

December 2007, Colorado Springs, CO

A gunman, armed with automatic weapons and handguns, pulled into the parking lot of New Life Church just as people were leaving. Earlier that day he had shot four persons at a Youth With a Mission (YWAM) training center, killing two and wounding two others. He had ties to both YWAM and New Life.

Getting out of his vehicle in the church parking lot, he began shooting with the automatic. Two teenage sisters were killed, their father was severely wounded, a bystander hit, and another person was narrowly missed.

The gunman burst through the door into the church's foyer. One person yelled to distract him, and was shot and wounded. A security guard (who was a former police officer) shot and disabled the gunman, who died from a head wound, possibly self-inflicted. [1]

September 2017, Sutherland Springs, TX

During the Sunday morning service, a gunman began spraying the exterior of the First Baptist Church, shooting out windows. He barged through the door, shooting. In the sanctuary, he methodically shot people as they tried to hide, including young children, killing half of those in attendance. He also had ties to his target. His wife had attended this church, and among the victims was his wife's grandmother.

When he stepped outside, the gunman was fired upon by a neighbor with a rifle. The gunman fled in his vehicle, pursued by the neighbor and a passerby in a truck. After missing a turn and driving into a ditch, the gunman killed himself. [2]

What was the difference?

The two attacks had radically different outcomes in numbers of casualties. Why?

First, the similarities:

The key difference is securitypersonnel. A security team was in place at New Life. It is estimated that 100 lives were saved because the attacker was confronted as soon as he entered the church.

First Baptist did not yet have a safety team in place. A small church, they could not afford to hire a security service. Also, the change in the law in Texas to allow churches to have a safety team for security without having to license every member of the team went into effect at the beginning of the month [3], too late for First Baptist to start one before the attack.

If there is an active killer incident, severe weather, or other emergency, those in the bull's eye need to know what to do and be able to do it.

Help Wanted

You are not able to do it alone . . . look for able men from all the people . . . and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens (Exodus 18:18, 21).

Being the only judge for two million people was too much for Moses. His father-in-law advised him to appoint lesser judges to handle most of the judicial load.

About 1440 years later, the Apostles in Jerusalem realized that they alone could not meet all the needs of the church. They told the church to nominate seven qualified men for the charity work, whom they would appoint. These were the first deacons. Members of a safety ministry are safety deacons.

How many safety deacons are needed? Enough to cover the campus during services, classes, and events. We also need Safety Committee members and a Director. Providing safety and security to a church larger than 50 members is too much for one or two persons. The larger the congregation is, and the larger the campus, the more people we need.

Now that the church is organizing a safety ministry, who will serve? How will we fill the positions created? Three ways of recruiting volunteers are Announce the need, Invite people to serve, and Search for qualified persons.

Announce

And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" Then I said, "Here I am! Send me" (Isaiah 6:8)

Let the congregation know that you need people to work in the Safety Team. Ask for interested qualified persons to apply. Be ready to take applications when people respond. Each person applying to serve in the Safety Ministry should fill out an application. Some of the questions on the application concern experience and qualifications (see below).

Invite

And the Lord said to [Elijah], ". . . you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria, . . . Jehu the son of Nimshi . . . to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat . . . to be prophet in your place (1 Kings 19:15-16).

God told Elijah to anoint three people for special duties, persons who did not know they were candidates for these positions. Therefore, Elijah was commissioned to invite them to serve. Some participants in a Church Safety Ministry are usually invited to serve in their positions. These are Safety Committee members and the Safety Director. This is because of the level of responsibility for committee members and the director. Waiting to invite allows us to give careful consideration as to whom we ask. If you have ever been on a church nominating committee, you are aware of the responsibility of this task.

Search

". . . lookfor able men" (Ex 18:21). | ". . . pickout from among you" (Acts 6:3). | ". . . seekout a man who is skillful in playing the lyre" (1 Samuel 16:16).

There may be times we do not know whom to invite to serve. In a medium-sized or larger church, there may not be enough applicants for the Safety Team to adequately cover the need without overworking a few. In this situation, we may have to find out who is qualified to serve and may be interested. Face it: for whatever reason, some people have to be asked, even if they are interested.

Qualifications

". . .men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe" (Ex 18:21). | ". . .men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom" (Acts 6:3). | . . . above reproach, [a one-woman man], sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money (1 Timothy 3:2-3).

Every position has qualifications, certain minimum requirements which must be met to do the job. The more responsible the position is, the more critical the qualifications are. At stake for a Church Safety Ministry is the well-being of the congregation, as well as the church's reputation. This is in addition to enabling the congregation to learn, worship, and serve without distraction, disruption, or worrying about safety. As such, there are specific qualifications and requirements for those serving in a Church Safety Ministry.

The Sheepdog Church SecurityGuide chapter "Church Safety Team Academy" says, "Before beginning work as a Church Safety Team member, an individual must successfully complete and submit an Application, a Reference Check, and a Background Check." [4]

First of all, those serving in the safety ministry must meet the same qualifications as church leaders which are given in the New Testament (Acts 6:3; 1 Timothy 3:2-13; Titus 1:5-9; 2:2-10).

Next, they must be physically, mentally, and emotionally able to perform required duties. This also includes literacy and the ability to speak clearly.

A criminal record (other than minor traffic tickets), falsification of information on the application, and failure to disclose relevant information are disqualifiers.

Certain character traits are required: [5][6]

Safety Team members must be willing to prioritize their activities for their own spiritual health, family life, and the security needs of the congregation:

  1. Attend church services.
  2. Spend time with families.
  3. Participate in training.
  4. Serve during services.
  5. Serve at large events.

These priorities tie into each other. The top priority is "Attend church services." Those who serve also need time to worship with others and receive spiritual teaching. Healthy family life (#2) is a key to emotional stability. Priorities #4 and #5 are about serving. When team members take their turn serving, this enables other team members to attend services and spend time with their families.

Training

The center priority (#3) is "Participate in training." The purpose of training is to qualify team members in aspects of service, to maintain qualifications, and to upgrade or update their qualifications. When we begin a safety team, it is important to orient the recruits to service in this congregation and to ensure that they have the knowledge and skills needed for the job. Experienced law enforcement and professional security personnel who attend training can help train those who are inexperienced.

Conclusion

When we start a Church Safety Ministry, we need to find and recruit people to serve, to be sure that they are qualified, and to see to it that they receive necessary training.

Primary Resource

Sheepdog Church Security, Training Bundles, "Turnkey Church Safety Ministry Proposal Kit v3" [https://www.sheepdogchurchsecurity.com/shop/bundles/proposal_kit.html].

References

  1. Wikipedia, "Colorado YWAM and New Life Shootings" [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2007_Colorado_YWAM_and_New_Life_shootings].
  2. Wikipedia, "Sutherland Springs Church Shooting" [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sutherland_Springs_church_shooting].
  3. Regulatory Services, Private Security, Texas Department of Public Safety, "New Legislation", September 2017 [https://www.dps.texas.gov/rsd/psb/Laws/legislation.htm].
  4. Sheepdog Church Security, Church Security Guide, "Church Safety Team Academy" [https://sheepdogchurchsecurity.net/safety-team-academy/].
  5. Sheepdog Church Security, Training Bundle, "Church Safety / Security Volunteer Academy v3" [https://www.sheepdogchurchsecurity.com/shop/bundles/security_academy.html].
  6. 6. Sheepdog Church Security, Online Training, "Church Safety and Security Volunteer Academy" [https://sheepdog-church-security.thinkific.com/courses/church-safety-and-security-volunteer-academy].