Set the Base

Organizing a Safety Ministry

Proposing and Starting a Church Safety Ministry

Man working on foundation of house

All these, who were chosen as gatekeepers at the thresholds, were 212. They were enrolled by genealogies in their villages. David and Samuel the seer established them in their office of trust. So they and their sons were in charge of the gates of the house of the Lord, that is, the house of the tent, as guards (1 Chronicles 9:22-23).

Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty (Acts 6:3).

This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— (Titus 1:5).

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace (1 Peter 4:10).


The Whirlwind Cometh!

It was a mostly cloudy, slightly breezy Sunday morning in Prairievine when Sunday School at Burning Bush Community Church began. An hour later, the congregation gathered for worship. Halfway through the service, the singing of "We Give Thee But Thine Own" was interrupted by the piercing scream of a tornado siren.

Startled, the people panicked. A few froze in terror. Some dived under pews. Most ran for the exits, trying to get to safe places - the restrooms, the basement, closets - resulting in jams at the doors to the sanctuary. The corridor was a mass of confusion with people trying to go in opposite directions. Pastor Schuman, the ushers, and a couple of elders tried to bring some order to the chaos, but it was too late.

About two minutes after the siren began to sound, it went silent as its tower was being twisted and torn. A moment later, screams of terror in the church were drowned out by a mighty roar as the roof was lifted off and walls were torn to pieces.

That afternoon, John Bormann, an on-the-scene reporter for Sounds of the Prairie Broadcasting, was interviewing first responders, city officials, and survivors, including Matt Rush —

Bormann: Where were you when the tornado hit?

Rush: I saw that doors were jammed, so I hid under a pew close to the back wall. That kept the ceiling from hitting me.

Bormann: What were your thoughts as you were hiding from the twister?

Rush: "Oh my! What a mess!" I said to myself. "Why were we not prepared for this?"

Unprepared

There are times when "unprepared" is a very tragic word. Such was the case in our story. In Burning Bush CC, unprepared meant lives were lost. Pastor Schuman was hailed as a hero - he died trying to save others rather than seek shelter for himself. But he and the elders would have been living heroes if they had prepared the congregation for what to do in case of a tornado, and had held tornado drills.

Prepare to Prepare

Preparation for emergencies takes preparation. This means assembling concerned persons, assessing the risks, planning how to meet the risks, and putting these plans into action. In other words, expect the unexpected and be ready for it. For instance, in a tornado-prone area, we do not actually expect that a tornado will hit our home, our school, where we work or shop, or our church. But since the risk is there, we prepare, just in case. The same goes for a fire, an accident, medical emergencies, and violent disruptions.

Since this is a group effort, the group needs direction and guidance. This means organization, whether formal or informal. Formal organization has the benefit of accountability. It also facilitates coordination. A formal organization does not have to be rigid and suffocating - we need enough organization to do the job well.

Setting It Up

Other articles discuss seeing the need for a safety ministry [1] and making the case for one to the church. [2] Once we have the go-ahead, it is time to set it up. The Safety Ministry Proposal Team now becomes the Safety Ministry Organization Committee.

This is where the Sheepdog Church Security Training Bundle "Turnkey Church Safety Ministry Proposal Kit, v3" [3] is a key resource. It begins with a discussion of risks facing the church, continues with how to make the case to the church, then outlines the organization of a safety ministry.

Your church may choose any of a number of names for the safety and security ministry, such as Safety Ministry, Security Ministry. Emergency Response Team, The Samariteam, Eyes and Ears, etc. Whatever the name, the purpose is to protect the flock as part of the flock, like livestock guardian dogs. [4]

Church Safety Ministry Organization

The standard organization of a Church Safety Ministry is

ü Church Safety Committee

ü Church Safety Director

ü Church Safety Team

Church Safety Committee

The Church Safety Committee is the governing body of the safety ministry. It answers to and coördinates with the governing body of the church, either directly or through the pastor or church administrator. In smaller churches, it may be a part of the governing body. It sets standards, policies, guidelines, and procedures for the ministry. The Committee sets/approves the ministry budget, and it appoints the Church Safety Director.

Church Safety Director

The Church Safety Director is the executive. The Director develops plans for emergencies the church may face. He or she enforces policies and standards, follows guidelines, carries out procedures, and recruits team members. She or he leads the team, makes schedules, coördinating these with church activities and events, manages team training and practices, manages the ministry budget and equipment procurement, and plans emergency drills (severe weather, fire, active shooter, etc.). The Director also represents the Safety Ministry to other ministries in the church and to the congregation.

Church Safety Team

The Church Safety Team is the part of the ministry seen by most of the congregation. To them, the team IS the ministry. Team members report to and work under the Church Safety Director and (in a large church) any Team Leaders the Director may appoint.

Biblical Examples

In setting up a Church Safety Ministry, we have biblical examples to consider:

ü King David followed the example of Samuel in appointing certain Levites as gatekeepers (guards) for the Tabernacle (1 Chronicles 9:22-23). This was not a new idea. Moses chose guards for the Tabernacle in the wilderness (Numbers 3:36; 11:16).

ü The Apostles had the church choose seven qualified men to serve those in need - these were the first deacons (Acts 6:3).

ü Paul expected Titus to appoint elders (who met certain qualifications) in Crete (Titus 1:5).

ü Peter urged his readers (and us) to use their gifts to serve each other (1 Peter 4:10).

Qualifications

Those in a Church Safety Ministry must be qualified spiritually, morally, mentally, physically, emotionally, and legally. They must also be trained and practiced in the knowledge, skills, and procedures of the job.

Conclusion

The purpose of setting up a Church Safety Ministry is to be ready for any emergency the congregation may face, so that we will not have to say, "Why were we not prepared for this?"

Resource

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

References

  1. W. Vaughn, "See the Need", Sheepdog Church Security, Articles, July 30, 2018 [https://sheepdogchurchsecurity.net/articles/see-the-need/].
  2. W. Vaughn, "Make the Case", Sheepdog Church Security, Articles, August 6, 2018 [https://sheepdogchurchsecurity.net/articles/make-the-case/].
  3. Sheepdog Church Security, Training Bundles, “Turnkey Church Safety Ministry Proposal Kit v3” [https://www.sheepdogchurchsecurity.com/shop/bundles/proposal_kit.html].
  4. Wikipedia, "Livestock guardian dog" [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Livestock_guardian_dog].