What Is Church Safety and Security?
From the Bible
- This is Wisdom speaking:
- God’s flock is His people:
- David protected his father’s flock from predators:
What are "fundamentals"? A fundamental is (1) that which is foundational (fundamental) to the subject, that which it is based upon, and/or (2) that which is essential (necessary) to the subject, without which the subject could not exist or function.
So the fundamentals of Church Security are the principles on which it is based, and the organization and practices needed for it to work - in other words, the basics.
And what is Church Safety and Security? It is protecting the congregation, both members and visitors, from various threats (see Protecting the Flock below).
In the News
Winchester, Kentucky, May 18, 2019 - Security training for churches in the Winchester area were held at Central Baptist Church. Among the sessions were "Active Shooter Preparedness" and "Legal Matters to Consider." Topics covered also included how to start a safety ministry, firearms safety, and children's safety.
Upstate New York State, June 2011 - The Upper New York Conference of the United Methodist Church adopted a resolution which directed each local church or charge (churches under one pastor or governing board) to have a Safe Sanctuaries ministry.
Nashville, Tennessee, November 11, 2015 - Agape Tactical has been conducting live-action active killer response training in actual church buildings. More churches saw the need for safety teams - especially for defending against active killers - after the massacre at Emmanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC.
Birmingham, Alabama, November 8, 2018 - Religious Product News republished an article from January 2015, "7 Critical Essentials for Church Security." The information was from ACTIVE Network, a church software company. According to them, the seven essentials are (quoting the headings):
- Background Checks
- Check-in System
- Aggressive Friendliness
- Emergency Action Plan
- Triage Teams
- Emergency Response Team (ERT) Kits
- Church Policies & Procedures
Security Team Fundamentals
This is the first module in the Complete Training System, the key part of Safety Member Team Certification. It is the first, because it covers the basics of Church Safety & Security. The other courses are Active Shooter Response, Deescalating Disruptive Persons, Protecting Children from Abuse, Basic Use of Force Laws, Arson and Fire Safety, and Storms and Disasters.
The training is also available in live online Zoom classes, one every two or three weeks. The current semester ends on December 9, and the next begins in 2022 with Safety Team Fundamentals on February 6. The training program is available both for classes and for individuals.
Reports and Forms Bundle
A fundamental principle of a Church Safety Team is accountability, and accurate record keeping is key to that. The team members are accountable to the team; the team to the Safety Director, the Safety Director to the Safety Committee, the Safety Committee to the church, and the church to the public. By using forms and reports, set policies and procedures mean something because they can be enforced.
The Reports and Forms Bundle has three reports and two logs: Incident Report, Follow-Up Report, Suspected Child Maltreatment Report, Patrol Log, and Safe Access Log. Each form except Safe Access Log has this notation at the top: "Release of Information on Juveniles is Restricted."
By clicking *HERE* you can get this bundle now. It is also one of the free Bonus Resources that come with Safety Member Team Certification.
Protecting the Flock
The mission of a Church Safety Ministry and its Church Safety Team is to protect the flock. A few of the threat areas are:
- Theft and fraud
- Abuse of children, youth, and vulnerable adults
- Disruptive behavior
- Active killer attack
- Bomb threats
- Vandalism and arson
- Severe weather and natural disasters
- Human-caused disasters
- Technological disasters
- Injuries and medical emergencies
Admittedly, in most churches (30 or more members) one person cannot protect the flock alone. A team is much better, and the larger the congregation and the more services, classes, and activities it has, the more team members it needs. Teamwork means coordination. A large Church Safety Ministry can be divided into safety/security and medical response teams with professionals (law enforcement/military or EMT/healthcare) in each.
Safety Ministry Organization
The most-used overall organization of a Church Safety Ministry (and the one recommended by Sheepdog Church Security) has a Safety Committee, a Safety Director, and a Safety Team (or Safety and Medical Response teams). This is the pattern which has proven to work best in most churches.
Members of the Safety Committee are church leaders and relevant professionals. Ideally, these would include members of various ministries of the church (such as Children's Department and Youth Ministry), a medical professional, and someone in law and/or insurance.
The Safety Committee sets policies, adopts a budget, interacts with the congregation's governing board, and appoints the Safety Director.
The Safety Director is usually someone with law enforcement and/or military experience. He or she establishes procedures for carrying out the Church Safety Ministry's policies, procures supplies covered by the budget, maintains records, recruits and selects Safety Team members, and supervises the Safety Team.
The Safety Director also facilitates training of the Safety Team and schedules fire, severe weather, and active shooter drills for the congregation.
To most members and guests of the congregation, the Safety Team is the face of the Safety Ministry. These are the ones they see and the ones who respond when needed.
The Safety Team may include not only full members, but also ushers and greeters who have been trained in the safety aspects of their duties. This is important, since they encounter almost all who come through the doors of the church.
Duties of Safety Team members include watching and being a presence in the foyer, corridors, sanctuary, and parking lot. They also conduct patrols, assist those who need help, watch for safety hazards, and intervene when needed (such as through verbal de-escalation). If there is an evacuation (such as with a fire) or a move to shelter (such as with a tornado), Safety Team members will guide the congregants and aide those who cannot make it on their own.
Qualifications and Expectations
As with any job or position of trust, there are qualifications and expectations for members of a Church Safety Team. Since Church Safety Team members are really deacons, they must fulfill the qualifications for deacons, as Paul laid out in 1 Timothy 3:8-13:
- Not greedy
- True to spouse
- Good parents and home managers
- Above all, faithful believers.
Other qualifications will be covered more fully in another article.
Our mission as Sheepdogs is to protect the flock. This work is based on the fundamentals of a Church Safety Ministry.
There Is More
There are four articles in December. The other three are "Know What You Face" (Assessing Risk), "Building on a Foundation" (The Basics of a Church Safety Team), and "The 2009 First Baptist Church of Maryville Shooting" (Lesson Learned).
- Kris Moloney, "Complete Training Program v4," Sheepdog Church Security, © 2020 [https://sheepdog-church-security.thinkific.com/].
- "Fundamental." Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed November 7, 2021 [https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fundamental].
- Winchester Sun staff and Central Baptist Church staff, "Central Baptist to host security training for area churches," The Winchester Sun, April 29, 2019 [https://www.winchestersun.com/2019/04/29/central-baptist-to-host-security-training-for-area-churches/].
- June 2011 Session of the Upper New York Annual Conference, "Charge Conference Info RE: Safe Sanctuaries Teams -BGF: Local Church Safe Sanctuaries Team/Committee," Upper New York Conference of the United Methodist Church, August 2011 [https://unyumc.org/images/uploads/Charge_Conference_SS_Teams_Policy.pdf].
- Rhori Johnston, "Church Trains For Active Shooter Scenario," NewsChannel 5 WTVF, November 11, 2015 [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X30oEOTA-Jw].
- ACTIVE Network (www.activenetwork.com), "7 Critical Essentials for Church Security," Religious Product News, January 2015, republished November 8, 2018 [https://www.religiousproductnews.com/7-critical-essentials-for-church-security/].
- The Zoom Class training schedule for the First Semester 2022 is
- Feb. 6 Safety Team Fundamentals
- Feb. 20 Active Shooter Response
- Mar. 6 Deescalating Disruptive Persons
- Mar. 20 Protecting Children from Abuse
- Apr. 3 Basic Use of Force Laws
- Apr. 25 Arson and Fire Safety
- May 15 Storms and Disasters
- Kris Moloney, "Complete Training System and Safety Member Team Certification," Sheepdog Church Security, © 2020: Team Training [https://sheepdog-church-security.thinkific.com/bundles/complete-church-security-training-system]; Individual Training [https://sheepdog-church-security.thinkific.com/bundles/safety-team-complete-training-course].
- Kris Moloney, "Reports and Forms Bundle," Sheepdog Church Security, © 2015 [https://sheepdog-church-security.ck.page/31e9dcb23b].