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Articles (Blog)

2023 Lake Houston Methodist Church Shooting

Learn from the 2023 Lake Houston Methodist Church shooting incident, where proactive security measures were taken but resulted in a fatal outcome. Explore key lessons in church safety and the importance of thorough training, as highlighted in the 'Active Shooter Response' module of the Safety Member Certification. Discover actionable steps to improve church security protocols and ensure the safety of your congregation.

The Routines of Safety and Security

Discover the importance of consistency in church safety. Learn key routines and qualifications from "Safety Team Fundamentals" to ensure a reliable and secure ministry.

Staying Safe This Summer

Discover essential seasonal safety tips for your church in this comprehensive article. Learn about potential hazards like heat stress, vehicle accidents, severe weather, playground mishaps, food poisoning, insect stings, bounce house injuries, and fire safety.

Mass Casualty Event

Prepare your church for mass trauma emergencies with insights from the Safety Member Certification training module. Learn how to assess risks, train responders, and equip your church for various disaster scenarios.

2021 Starrville Methodist Church Shooting

Use all caution when dealing with a fugitive. If you’re armed, take measures to keep him from getting your weapon.

Armed Response

Discover the critical decisions behind using force in church security situations and learn how biblical principles of restraint and legal obedience can guide your actions. This gripping article delves into real-life incidents, such as the dramatic West Freeway Church of Christ shooting, to reveal the complexities faced by security team members. Whether it's deciding to draw a weapon or opting for verbal de-escalation, these life-or-death choices require preparation and training. Explore how necessity, effectiveness, and legal considerations shape the response to active threats, and find out why deadly force should always be the last resort. Equip yourself with the knowledge to protect your congregation with wisdom and care—read on to transform your approach to church security.

Be Aware

Discover the vital role of situational awareness in safeguarding yourself and your community. Learn how staying alert can prevent attacks, stop crimes, and maintain safety in various environments, from personal encounters to church settings.

There’s More to Applicants Than What You See

The Sheepdog Church Security article “Lessen Legal Liabilities” highlights lawsuits from churches retaining individuals involved in abuse or theft.

The Judas Syndrome

Embezzlement - an ancient issue. From biblical times to now, theft persists across societies. Vigilance is key to safeguarding against various forms of theft.

Lakewood Church Shooting, 2024

Mental illness & domestic violence are top causes of deadly-force attacks in places of worship. Hard to track in large congregations, vital to protect all.

Detained

Citizen's arrests in media blur legality; real attempts on public figures often for attention, rarely successful. Church Safety Teams should use discretion.

Lessen Legal Liabilities

A church faces legal woes - from trip hazards to abuse cases, even criminal charges for mishandling incidents. Prevention is paramount.

Back to Basics

Workplaces, professions, and church safety rely on reminders and ongoing education to ensure basics are followed and knowledge stays current.

Buckling Up for Safety

Buckling up - Beyond seat belts, it's about readiness and equipping oneself mentally, especially in ensuring safety, as in church security.

The Cooling-Off Period

This is a rare use of the Taft-Hartley Act in U.S. strike intervention. It echoes the church's de-escalation principle—like pouring oil on troubled waters.

2010 Visalia LDS Church Shooting

Mental illness fuels senseless acts and treachery, especially in places of worship. Often unrecognized or mishandled, it can lead to tragic outcomes.

Knock, Spray, Zap

Non-lethal defense options-strike, spray, or zap assailants with less-than-lethal weapons like striking devices, sprays, electrical discharge, and BolaWrap.

Until the Storm Passes by

Keep me safe until the storm passes by. Learn how Church Safety Ministries protect congregations from tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires, and more.

Caring for the Lambs

Explore the biblical role of shepherds and guard dogs, from Job's sheepdogs to David's protection, mirroring modern church security.

Direction for the Director

Equip your Church Safety Team and Director with essential tools and support for effective ministry administration and keeping the flock safe. Learn more!

2018 Tree of Life Synagogue Shooting

In times of medical emergency, churches rely on trained individuals, not just doctors, to provide immediate assistance and ensure safety for all.

More Than Band-Aids

In times of medical emergency, churches rely on trained individuals, not just doctors, to provide immediate assistance and ensure safety for all.

Train to Serve

Empower your church's safety team with ongoing training for readiness, updates, and staying current on methods, tech, and regulations.

Safe from Fire

Fires wreak havoc on homes, workplaces, and communities, posing threats to lives and property. Even firefighters face peril, as seen in the tragic 1995 Seattle warehouse arson incident.

Gearing Up for Safety

Amid rising tensions, organizations face growing safety concerns due to hostility against diverse viewpoints, resulting in threats and acts of violence.

2022 Congregation Beth Israel Hostage Crisis

There are a variety of movitivations behind deadly-force indicidents has places of worship. The Congregation Beth Israel motive was to hold hostages to force action.

On a Mission

When starting a new job or position, we get a job description. This description is a list of stipulations to achieve the mission of the organization or business.

Starting the New Year Right

New Year’s Day is associated with new beginnings and renewals. It’s not too late to resolve what our Church Safety Ministry will do throughout the year.

2017 Cathedral of the Cross Shooting

Even with security and police precense, fights can escalate tragically. The question is, can we intervene in time to keep the situation from escalating.

Safe for Children

The article covers ways to keep our children safe during the holiday/winter months. Topics covered are - abduction prevention, predator prevention, activity risks, cold weather safety, and protests.

Have a Safe Holiday Season

Now that Christmas is in full swing, we don't neglect safety. With three major holidays in a 5-week period, there's a lot of distraction.

2016 Creekside Church Murder

An article based on an interview with Michael Caughran and the Safety Member Certification training module "Basic Use of Force Laws."[1]

Ready to Defend

An article based on an interview with Michael Caughran and the Safety Member Certification training module "Basic Use of Force Laws."[1]

Backing the Blue

Many law enforcement officers bear scars inside, triggering mental/emotional breakdowns, marital problems, health issues, and suicides. They need help and support. We will take a look at the work of The Cornelius Project, a Sheepdog Church Security affiliate[1] that supports these important service members.

2023 Covenant School Shooting Lesson Learned

What we find out about our church’s neighborhood should open our eyes to the needs for ministry as well as risks the church faces.

The Community Climate - Part 2

What we find out about our church’s neighborhood should open our eyes to the needs for ministry as well as risks the church faces.

The Community Climate - Part 1

What we find out about our church’s neighborhood should open our eyes to the needs for ministry as well as risks the church faces.

2022 Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church Shooting

While welcoming visitors, also watch for any warning signs of potential violence.

Active Shooter Casualties

While we try to prevent an active shooter incident, we should be ready to treat mass casualties in case there is one

Do Not Burn

Do what you can to prevent church fires.

2008 Church of Scientology Shooting

While watching the approaches to the church’s main entry, watch for known threats and be alert for any signs of weapons.

Continuing Education

Take your training to the next level with Worship Security Academy.

Back to School

It is Back-to-School time. A well-trained Church Safety Team is needed to keep the church safe and secure. For them it is Back to Training.

Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church Shooting

Be alert for anything violating expected norms. It may be nothing, but it could be a threat.

Guardrails

Just as guardrails protect vehicles from veering off course, policies and procedures serve as essential safeguards for our churches, shielding the most vulnerable among us.

1999 North Valley Jewish Community Center Shooting

The two Cs of legal liability are Civil and Criminal. Use of force above the level of presence has the potential for both kinds of legal liability.

Legal Fallout

The two Cs of legal liability are Civil and Criminal. Use of force above the level of presence has the potential for both kinds of legal liability.

2020 Grace Baptist Church Stabbing

Pay attention to known risks and take them into account when helping risky people, then exercise due caution and accountability.

A Calming Presence

Verbal de-escalation is a key skill for keeping the peace in church as well as for helping disturbed persons.

2014 Word Tabernacle Church Shooting

Extend safety measures to all of the church’s campus, especially parts that are open to public use during the week.

Supply Line to Life

Mountain Man Medical is a resource churches can use to be equipped for medical emergencies.

Confront and Comfort

When we become aware of sexual abuse within our Christian organization or against its members or children, we need to confront the offenders, report the offense, and comfort and support the victims.

2020 Glorious Church of God in Christ Shooting

When you are helping people who have addictions and behavioral issues, be aware of the risks. This is especially true when the person has a history of violence.

Medic! Medic!

Be ready to respond to medical emergencies in the church. Know the signs, be equipped, and be trained.

2014 Mt. Carmel Baptist Church Shooting

Special situations may arise which require special consideration to keep people safe. A supervised child-parent visitation is one of them.

Recruit and Verify

It pays to get competent professional help for background checks of applicants for staff and volunteer positions in your church.

Handling Trouble

When vocal commands and verbal de-escalation do not deter an unarmed person from damaging behavior, you need to know how to defend yourself or control them without using a weapon.

2015 Anna Prayer Center Stabbing

Use discretion when assisting persons in need who have or may have mental health issues, behavioral issues, criminal records involving violence of any level, and/or substance addictions.

Run to Cover

There are times we need to run for cover, to find shelter from storms, disasters, wildfires, killers, extreme heat or cold, and other dangers. Can our church provide needed shelter at these times?

2014 Bayshore Baptist Church Shooting

If someone is targeted for a shooting, it makes little difference whether it is inside the church or outside. In either case, the real question is how to protect that person.

What about This

Knowing about a website and how to use it helps us to get better results. Such is the case with the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website.

2014 Double Springs Community Church Shooting

When no one is attending the door to the church, lock it. This is even more important when someone is being threatened.

2010 New Gethsemane Church of God in Christ Shooting

Be ready to recognize and respond to threats which are specific to your church’s location. Keep a watch at the front door and lock all others. Lock that one during services.

Nooks and Crannies

Patrols inside a church can assure members of the congregation, find safety hazards, and guard against wrongdoers.

2013 Saint James the Just Church Shooting

When you are aware of any threat made to the church or persons in it, take it seriously. People in the church should be confident that they can share any threat with you.

This Is Abuse!

To know how to combat child sex abuse, we must first know about it. This is especially important for those who write the policies and procedures, but also important for those working with children, youth, and vulnerable adults.

1988 Calvary Baptist Church Shooting

Watch the entry at all times, before services, during services, and after services. Be alert to signs of violent intent and weapons. Violent intruders may come in at any time.

Watch the Radar

Be aware of potential threats to the church and conduct threat assessments.

2012 Victory for the World Church Shooting

In a troubling situation, monitor troubling persons and be ready to respond appropriately.

Introducing Church Emergency Consulting

Evacuation cribs are what we need to get all babies and non-walking children out in an emergency.

2012 Destiny Christian Center Shooting

Random incidents may happen outside our churches. We should be prepared to respond and take precautions in case someone involved is violent.

Fluffy Rain, Wet Blanket, Skating Rink

The beauty of winter has its hazards. We can’t stop the weather, but we can help our churches to be safer.

Home Defense

Domestic violence is very real, and it does happen among those who attend our churches. Organizations such as House of Faith and Freedom are here to help us know how to address the issue of violence in the home and to protect those who are in our churches.

Vetting Volunteers

We need to close the cracks through which sex offenders can slip into our churches to get access to our children and youth. This is done through effective vetting of volunteers, staff, and pastors.

2008 St. Thomas Syrian Orthodox Knanaya Church Shooting

When we know a domestic violence victim comes to our church, we need to take measures to protect her, the children, and the church.

The Force of Choice

We need to be able to use whatever force is needed, but avoid using excessive force. In a disruptive situation, the force of choice should be the lowest level necessary.

2006 West Nickel Mines Amish School Shooting

Gates and doors are the first physical lines of defense against intruders, especially those with murderous intentions. Keep them closed and locked when unattended, and ready to lock when in use.

Gearing Up for Safety

Knowing the church’s neighbors and other persons in the community helps evangelism, recognition of community service opportunities, and security. Sometimes you will need a threat assessment.

2005 Sash, Texas, Assembly of God Shooting

Knowing the church’s neighbors and other persons in the community helps evangelism, recognition of community service opportunities, and security. Sometimes you will need a threat assessment.

Wrestling with Danger

Weapons, whether lethal or non-lethal, are not always the right option. We need to be able to use unarmed self-defense and control moves for wrestling with disruptors.

2022 Tulsa Cathedral Stabbing and Arson Attempt

Persons ready to do violence can literally come off the street. If and when they do, we must already be ready.

Stop the Grinch

The goals of our response to sexual abuse are (1) to stop sex-offending Grinches from abusing the victims, and (2) to keep them from abusing others.

Have Healthy Holidays

Having a “safe and healthy holiday” does not happen by accident. What can we do to make our church a safe and healthful place this year?

View with Suspicion, Handle with Caution

If you become suspicious about a vehicle outside your church, what should you do?

2002 Conception Abbey Shooting

Be ready to screen all suspicious packages and persons before they can come into the church.

Blue Life Support

MThe Cornelius Project / Blue Life Support is here to help police officers face the stresses encountered by those in law enforcement.

A Safe Distance

Most church leaders want to protect their children from sexual abuse. They also want to minister to sex offenders to help them overcome their addictions. The safest way to do both is to keep the children and the offenders separate.

The Critical Choice

IIn a situation with a threat of deadly violence, you may have to decide in a split second whether to shoot or not shoot. Prepare now to be ready to make that critical choice.

Do I Smell Smoke?

If there is a fire in the church, be ready to evacuate. Also, know how to put it out.

1999 Temple Grounds Church Shooting

If a person violates social norms or is out of synch with a current situation (such as the weather), pay attention, notify others, and take appropriate measures, just to be safe.

Setting Boundaries

We all need to set personal boundaries to protect ourselves from fraud and abuse. Therefore, we should help and guide our children in setting their own personal boundaries, especially to protect them from sexual abuse.

On Hold

Think twice before making a citizen’s arrest. Do not attempt it unless it is both legal and necessary.

Outer Guard

Keep an eye on the outside and be ready to respond appropriately to any suspicious persons, taking defensive measures if needed.

2019 West Freeway Church of Christ Shooting

The time and place to begin observing people should be when they come to the entry door.

A Library of Resources

Advanced church safety training is available through the Worship Security Association.

A Drilled Response

Drills should not only let us practice our skills together. They should also condition us for what we may encounter.

Youth at Risk

We should recognize that our teens are at risk of sexual abuse, then do what we can to reduce that risk. This includes teaching the teens to recognize attempts at grooming, and encouraging them to confide in parents and/or teachers.

Moving Perception

Regular patrols around the church, inside and outside, will find safety and security issues that need attention. They also assure congregants that the Safety Team is doing its job.

2017 St. Alphonsus Church Shooting

We can’t know the condition of the flock and seek their welfare until we know the flock.

Categorically Dangerous

Now that it is hurricane season, what if one comes your way? How do you prepare for and respond to a hurricane?

The Who's Who of Child Safety

We need to be able to identify sex offenders to keep them from abusing our children. We can do that through sex offender registries, screening organizations, and observations of behavior.

Face-to-Face with Evil

What will you do if you find yourself face-to-face with an active killer in your church? How will you engage him?

2017 Sutherland Springs Church Shooting

Church leaders should be ready to receive and confirm threats of violence and take necessary measures. This is the role of a Threat Assessment.

Building Resistance

We need help equipping our children to be sexually safe. The “How to Prevent” chapter the Safety and Education section of the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offenders Public Website teaches us how to train our children to avoid and resist sexual predators.

Relieving Tensions

By relieving tensions through verbal de-escalation we protect the church while ministering to disruptive individuals.

Shut Out, Shut In

If armed assailants attack the church, two defensive moves are shutting the attackers out of the church (a lockout) and shutting vulnerable persons in safe places (a lockdown). These measures put barriers between attackers and their intended victims.

2017 Burnette Chapel Church of Christ Shooting

Some church shootings begin outside the building then come inside. Three examples are those at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado, First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, and Barnette Chapel Church of Christ in Antioch, Tennessee.

They Have You Covered

If a firearm is used in an incident at church, you can get legal help through U.S. LawShield.

Marked Abusers

To keep wolves out of the fold, we need to know who the wolves are. Many sexual predators can be identified through the Dru Sjodin National Sex Offenders Public Website (NSOPW).

Responder's Risk

Among the risks we face when responding to disruptive incidents is legal liability. Depending on the incident and the way it is handled, a responder may (rightly or wrongly) be sued or criminally charged. We need to minimize the risk and have help ready in case we’re sued or charged.

I Spy

Beginning with observing actions and people outside and those coming in the door, be alert for signs that someone is intent and armed for violence.

The Church in Sacramento Shooting, 2022

It is a multiple tragedy when a person kills family members, a family friend and church elder who is trying to help, and himself, and does it in a church. What lesson can we learn from this recent incident?

All Eyes & Ears

“Be safe. Be aware.” More than just a sign on a wall, it should be our normal state as Church Safety Team members - alert for medical emergencies, fire, active killers, and any other threats to the safety and well-being of those in the church.

Weathering a Whirlwind

We cannot prevent or stop a tornado. The best we can do is to know when it is coming and head for shelter.

Man Down!

When there is a medical emergency, we need to be trained and equipped, ready to respond.

2015 Emanuel AME Church Shooting

Always have someone who is watchful and alert. This is especially true when the situation changes, such as a likely hostile visitor.

Strengthen the Gate

We like to feel secure, but that feeling should be based on reality. Doors and windows resistant to forced entry are a necessary step to securing that security.

Facing Evil

Are you ready to respond if and when Evil (an active shooter) invades your sanctuary?

Building The Wall

Nehemiah urged the people of Jerusalem to help him build the wall to protect the city from its enemies. There are walls of security we can erect to protect the church from an active killer. Some are physical; some are not.

Violation of Sanctity

We are not totally immune to violence. The potential of an armed assailant is real. Do what you can to reduce the chances, but be ready to respond in case it happens.

2012 World Changers Church Shooting

Security measures need to be in place anytime the church building is in use or a church-sponsored event is held. Have safety team members present during services and events. Train staff on maintaining safety when working at the church.

Screening Help

Protect My Ministry provides screening of applicants which is more thorough than churches themselves can conduct.

Keeping the Door

For thousands of years, sheepdogs have been guardians of the flock. Our duty is to do what we can to protect the lambs (children) and the yearlings (youths) of the flock from abuse.

Wolves and Lambs

Child abuse is real. It is present in our society, and it happens in churches and in church communities. Are we alert enough to be aware of abuse taking place?

The 2009 Reformation Lutheran Church Shooting

Store employees often see this sign - “See something? Hear something? Know something? Say something!” People in the church should be willing to report suspicious activity to church leadership or to the Safety Team, and they should be encouraged to do so.

Escape the Flames

When the church is on fire, get out while the getting is good. See to it that no one is left behind.

Cool It Down

With a fire, as with a medical emergency or an active killer, the first responders are those persons already there. Know if you can put out a fire and how.

Not Too Hot

Fire prevention is worth the cost and effort when considering the potential cost of a fire.

The 2009 First Baptist Church of Maryville Shooting

If you stop a killer at the gate, he won’t be inside when it is too late.

Building on a Foundation

Learning the basics of Church Safety and practicing them is fundamental to keeping the flock safe.

Know What You Face

An old saying is, “Forewarned is forearmed.” If you know what may be ahead, you can plan accordingly. That is the purpose of a Risk Assessment.

To Keep the Flock Safe and Secure

Our mission as Sheepdogs is to protect the flock. This work is based on the fundamentals of a Church Safety Ministry.

The 2007 New Life Church Shooting

When we receive a credible warning, take heed and be ready to stop an armed intruder. If there are team members outside, they may keep the killer from getting to the door.

A Calming Conversation

“Blessed are the peacemakers.” That is our role when using verbal de-escalation.

On The Radar

The old proverb is, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When we see disruption coming and respond early, we may prevent violence and its price.

Dialing Down the Heat

When de-escalating disruption, it helps to understand what leads to it, because that helps us to understand the person we’re dealing with.

2007 Neosho First Congregational Church Shooting

Be aware of undercurrents in the church community which may lead to deadly episodes. Be ready to act proactively to help the person and avert tragedy.

Limits of Force

Use of force and citizen’s arrest are covered by state laws and local ordinances. Therefore, we need to know what our state and local use-of-force laws are so our actions will be legal.

Colors of Force

The “use of force” has a broader and more diffuse meaning than most people realize. We naturally tend to think of the stronger types of force, and this limited concept tends to limit the options we consider in any situation. Understanding the use of force as a continuum enables us to have a more refined – and more effective – response in a situation and to avoid using excessive force.

Danger at Home

It is no longer a secret. Domestic abuse is more common than previously acknowledged, even within the church. Let us do what we can to prevent and stop abuse, and to help the abused.

Neutralize the Threat

Most of us have seen Run, Hide, Fight, the training video for an active shooter response.[2] When we can’t run and can’t hide, and we’re facing the shooter, we fight. As a Safety Team, we don’t run or hide, but stay between the killer and the flock. When we’ve already called for a lockdown, how do we deal with the killer himself? One way or another, the threat must be neutralized.

The 2007 Moscow First Presbyterian Church Shooting

A shooter may try to enter a church building while it is locked up and no one is at any door. Maybe they are already shooting, or they’re coming after someone inside, or to use the church as a platform for shooting. Here’s where enhanced access control is needed.

Bar the Doors

When a violent intruder/intent killer appears, the prime consideration is the safety of congregants, staff, and visitors. Even as the Safety Team begins to counter the intruder, a lockout, evacuation, and a lockdown should keep all or most of them safe.

Time to Gel

Start your Church Safety Ministry right. Success leads to success. Prepare for the first project after the initial activity with team-building, security assessment, and successful implementation.

The Nudge

A Church Safety Ministry does not just “naturally” develop. First, the need is seen by a few, a plan of action is formulated, then steps are taken to gain acceptance and cooperation.

2006 Ministry of Jesus Christ Church Shooting

Take all threats seriously, especially if they qualify as warnings. It does not hurt to be ready, but the attack does not come. It can be devastating if a warning is ignored and it is for real.

To Treat, Rescue, and Defend

When the time comes to respond to medical emergencies, to evacuate mobility-impaired persons, or to defend yourself or others, be sure you have what you need already on hand. Prepare for unscheduled events.

Basically Equipped

Know what basic equipment and supplies you need. Get the needed equipment and don’t run out of supplies. Have what you need when you need it.

Banner On, Guns Down

You do not want to be the good guy who is mistaken for a bad guy and ends up being a dead guy. The purpose of DSM Safety Products is to prevent that scenario. Their DSM Safety Banner is designed to identify you as the “good guy” at the scene – “Banner On, Don’t Shoot!”

You’ve Been Audited!

If and when your church is audited, responding with kindness and respect would be a good testimony. “Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing” (1 Peter 3:8).

2006 Zion Hope Missionary Baptist Church Shooting

When a member of our church community suffers domestic violence, that violence may look for them at church. Be aware of these situations and be ready to respond if need be.

Qualified User

Training is essential for carrying a firearm as a Church Security Team member. It is advisable, and required in some states, for non-lethal to less-lethal weapons like pepper spray, batons, and Tasers. If

Legality and Lethality

When you want something in your hand for self-defense, ask a few questions - How lethal is it? Is it legal? What are the rules for using it?

When You Need Cover

If you have used a weapon in a church security incident, you will most likely need a lawyer. One is available if you are a U.S. LawShield® member.

The 2005 World Changers Church Shooting

We never know when trouble will come knocking on our door. Know what to do just in case. Don’t hesitate to call 911 when violence is involved or imminent.

The Third Level

In most heated confrontations and efforts to control unacceptable behavior, using weapons of any kind is inadvisable at best and may be illegal. Therefore, Empty-Handed Control techniques are usually the best means of self-defense when verbal de-escalation doesn’t work.

On the Radar

Be ready to protect yourself and others and not be blindsided. Learn Situational Awareness and use it while on Safety Team duty and in your daily life.

An Abundance of Counselors

Even if all members of your Church Safety Team are trained and certified in all the Sheepdog Church Security training courses, do you sense the need to go deeper? Many experts are available through the Worship Security Association.

Peeping Tom Tech

We do not like having our privacy violated. Neither do others who come to our churches. Yet there is now the constant threat of being videoed in a restroom or locker room at church. The Safety Team can protect the privacy of everyone by frequently searching the restrooms and other privacy areas for hidden cameras.

The 2005 Living Church of God Shooting

Intentionally ministering to the hurting in our congregations is biblical, as we are to care for each other. We do not know ahead of time if in some cases this may prevent a tragedy such as that in Brookfield, but it can help the hurting to heal. On the other hand, if someone in a service begins shooting, are we ready to fight? This can limit the number of casualties.

Many Down, 911

Whether it is a natural disaster, a technological disaster, or violence, we need to be trained and equipped to treat many seriously-injured persons if and when a mass casualty incident happens in our church.

Code Blue

We need training, practice, and drills to know how to respond to a medical emergency in the church, whether it is an injury or an illness.

Equipped for Code Blue

Does your Church Safety Team have what it needs for a life-threatening medical emergency or a mass casualty event? Sheepdog Church Security has partnered with Mountain Man Medical to make these supplies available with proven products and at a reasonable cost.

The 2003 Turner Monumental AME Shooting

We need to know the flock, those under our protection. This is primarily to help them when they need it. Sometimes it helps us defend the rest of the flock from one of its own members.

Cooling Heated Tempers

Life’s little disruptions come and go. We don’t want a little one to grow into a big and dangerous one. It’s important to watch and be alert for when things are going too far. Safety Team members must know when to intervene and use verbal de-escalation to cool down the situation.

Seeds of Disruption

When we know the root causes of disruptive behavior and recognize the warning signs, we can proactively address the distress of disturbed persons and try to calm the situation through verbal de-escalation.

Finding a Non-Violent Defense

Most of the time de-escalation works, successfully restoring calm and avoiding violence. Sometimes, however, the subject becomes violent. Reflex Protect can stop the violence without harming the subject.

The 2002 Our Lady of Peace Church Shooting

A monthly feature looking at church shooting incidents. We will be discussing what happened and why, as well as whether it could have been prevented and how a church can prepare for such an incident.

By Human Hands

Some technological disasters may be prevented. Others cannot. Prevent the ones you can, be ready to respond to those more likely.

On Shaky Ground

There are some natural hazards we cannot actually forecast – earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, sinkholes, landslides and tsunamis – at least not to the same degree as the weather. However, we can know which ones are likely in our areas, prepare for them, and insure against the most potentially costly ones.

Heat & Cold, Flood & Drought

We can’t choose the weather, but we can choose what to do when facing extreme weather conditions to protect lives and property.

The Will of the Wind

A Church Safety Ministry needs to know what kinds of windstorms may come in their location and how likely they are, then prepare to protect the flock before, during, and after the storm.

2001 Greater Oak Missionary Baptist Church Shooting

A monthly feature looking at church shooting incidents. We will be discussing what happened and why, as well as whether it could have been prevented and how a church can prepare for such an incident.

Lawful Force

As we defend the flock, we must do it legally. Learn how your state’s use-of-force laws apply to a Church Safety Ministry and apply them.

To the Defense

We can come to the defense of the church from violence by Readiness, Remaining Alert, Recognizing Threats, and Retaining Control.

How Forceful?

For a Church Safety Ministry, it is our goal to use only the amount of force needed to keep order and protect the congregation, and no more.

Stop the Bullies

Protecting children and youth from abuse should include peer abuse – bullying. More than detecting and dealing with abuse by bullies. Pastors, teachers, and group leaders should try to create an environment of respect.

1999 Wedgwood Baptist Church Shooting, Fort Worth, Texas

When an unexpected tragedy happens, such as at Wedgwood Baptist Church in 1999, we can learn from it and prepare to respond to future threats to keep them from becoming tragedies.

With Our Wings

The least among us, our children and youth, are vulnerable to abuse. Let us do what we can to spread our wings of protection over them.

Wolves among the Lambs

Abuse is more common in churches than most of us know, especially sexual abuse of children and youth. In biblical language, there are wolves among the lambs. We, as the sheepdogs, must do what we can to protect our lambs from the wolves.

We Resolve

We resolve that in 2021 we will serve the least among us by respecting them, promoting their safety, protecting them from abuse, and accepting their service.

Equipping to Protect

The Church Safety Ministry’s mission of protecting the flock includes defense and rescue. There are several items that are useful – even essential – for these tasks.

Equipping the Hands

God asked Moses, “What is that in your hand?” (Exodus 4:2). Moses started with a staff, but before long he needed other things, such as writing materials, weapons, items for the Tabernacle, etc. Likewise, a Church Safety Ministry needs certain everyday kinds of items to do its work of protecting the flock.

Equipping the Mind

While we are equipping ourselves and the Church Safety Ministry for protecting the flock, the most important equipping is of the mind.

Safety for the Holidays

Holidays are more enjoyable when no one is injured or gets sick. Remember to watch out for safety hazards. As well as help others to be careful, and be careful yourself.

Down Our Street

More people in this country are taking advantage of their right to assemble peaceably. Sometimes they picket churches. Violent mobs are also more common now. Safety teams must be ready for if and when they come.

The Aftermath

An active shooter incident will leave its marks on a church long after the shooting stops. What we do can make a difference for the congregation and the community after it happens.

Deadly Encounter

What is your church’s response to an active shooter? It’s vital that we not be passive when encountering an active killer in a place of worship. Safety Ministries need to know what to do and how to do it when the unthinkable happens.

Our Wall and Our Shield

The best response to an active killer incident is a proactive response by using threat assessments to evaluate threats to the church.

The Election and Church Safety

This election cycle has been definitely different. Civil unrest has been added to the hindrances of a global pandemic with widespread restrictions. All of this continues right up to Election day. There are two questions for us - How can we stay safe while voting or hosting a polling place? And should Christians vote or not vote?

Keep It Cool

Uncontrollable fires are a serious danger and can cause a lot of destruction. That’s why it’s so important to be prepared to prevent fires in your church.

On the Record

Good records mean good management. In Church Safety Ministry, the job is not finished until the paperwork is done. It’s important to know what to report and how to write and file those reports.

On the Beat

Safety Team Members need to be on the lookout and know how to deter possible threats. Patrolling the premises is a key way to ensure the safety of those in the church.

Lines in the Sand Part 2

Keeping the church and its members safe during the pandemic is more than just stopping infections. It also includes stopping those who would take advantage of the pandemic to victimize the church.

Lines in the Sand

As the coronavirus pandemic stretches on, protective restrictions by many states have continued past the originally-projected end dates or have been resumed. The question of many churches is how they should continue their worship service during the pandemic.

On Call

When emergencies strike, Safety Team members have to be ready to respond. Are you prepared?

What's My Role?

If you are a Church Safety Team member, you have different roles to play. That of a leader and a follower.

Gentlemen, This Is a Football

To get started with a Security Team, you first need to understand the basics so you know how to best train the Safety Ministry for your church.

How Secure Are We?

A Security Ministry can face all kinds of risks when serving the church, it’s important to assess what those risks are and know how to be ready for them.

The First Moves

The best way to get started with your new Safety Ministry is to make achievable goals and appreciate the little victories.

Of a Like Mind

Building a security team for a church can be a challenge, but with the right approach and proper training anyone can create an effective Safety Ministry.

See the Need

Churches everywhere face the threat of arson, burglary, and violence. Starting a Safety Ministry can help prevent crime and protect your place of worship.

Are You Covered?

When anything between a small or major incident causes the church to get sued, the high costs of court can’t always be afforded. Taking the time to insure the church can help cover for the costs that no one expected.

On the Defense

The kind of weapons we use to defend the church come in wide varieties and have many different uses. Having the training and knowledge to use these tools is essential for security teams.

Get the Message

Communication is a key to ensuring the safety of those attending your church. We need to be equipped for effective communication.

What’s on Hand?

Keep tools on hand which are needed to make the church a safe place. Don’t wait until you need essential items before getting them. Lack of needed tools to eliminate, mitigate, or warn of hazards can result in lawsuits if injuries result.

Learning and Wearing

“The whole armor” we put on for a Church Safety Ministry is not only what we wear and carry, but also how we equip our minds and our souls.

Find a Coach

We like to think of church as a safe place. However, people being people, tempers will flare and someone will lash out. You may be the target, or you may be there when another person is attacked. So do you know how to respond? There is training available. We need to find it and take it.

Down We Go

Although church is not the place where we expect a knockdown, drag-out fight, there are times when this may literally happen. If that does come about, are you ready to muscle tussle?

Hang on

In self-defense, holds and locks are a means of gaining and keeping control of an attacker. They must be executed properly to be effective and safe.

Care to Be Aware

Situational awareness is the first skill of self-defense. Almost always, it is the deciding factor. Be watchful all the way around. Be aware. Stay in the Loop.

Make Yourself Ready

When a person or persons are injured, there are a few immediate considerations. These include existing danger, type of injury, severity of injury, and number of injuries. To these we can add the relative availability of healthcare facilities and professional services. After an injury we should review the incident to consider how to make the church a safer place.

Help the Hurting

When a person or persons are injured, there are a few immediate considerations. These include existing danger, type of injury, severity of injury, and number of injuries. To these we can add the relative availability of healthcare facilities and professional services. After an injury we should review the incident to consider how to make the church a safer place.

Have a Heart

If someone at your church has a heart attack, a stroke, or a seizure, or is choking, would you know what to do and how to do it? Find out what to do and get the needed training and certification.

Proactive Response

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” We should do what we can to prevent injuries and illnesses in our churches.

Peaceable Assembly

We live in a conflicted world. There will be disagreements and complaints. If protesters show up at your church, this will be an opportunity to respond peacefully. Our respectful response will be a positive witness to the community.

Calming Troubled Waters

When tensions are escalating, we want to keep them from exploding into violence. We can use verbal de-escalation to bring the situation back from the brink without using physical force.

Assessing Threats

Assessing possible threats of violence against the church is a safety & security tool churches should use. Knowing what threats we face not only enables us to prevent violence or prepare for it; it also provides us the opportunity for intervention.

Indications

Calming a situation at the start, before it becomes disruptive, is much easier and safer than trying to fight a heated battle. Like smelling smoke or seeing a small flicker, we need to see indications that a situation is brewing and turn down the heat before it boils over.

Tectonic Terror

Tectonic disasters can be extremely terrifying events. It is as though the earth itself has turned against you, moving the ground out from under you and throwing hot rocks, ash, and molten lava at you. Churches are not exempt from their threats.

Human Error

Disasters can be both natural and the result of human activity. Those in the latter category are largely preventable, and therefore regrettable. Some are more likely to impact our church because of its location. We need to be ready for those.

A Burning Problem

Wildfires, drought, and extreme heat are weather hazards related to heat. Each has to be addressed in its own way, according to how they affect us and our communities. Churches and congregants are both targets of the hazards and agents of mercy during duress.

Twisting in the Wind

When dark clouds roll in and the sky rumbles, beware. There is danger ahead. Know what’s coming and be prepared.

It Ain't Over 'til It's Over

While Winter lasts, we remain ready for the cold, snow, ice, and strong winds. Some parts of the country face rain, flooding, and tornadoes, with their own threats to the safety of the flock. It may be March, but it is still Winter. As Yogi Berra said, “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.”

On Hold

This is not an everyday situation (at least not in most neighborhoods), but there may be times when someone must stop a person committing a crime, especially when lives are at stake. However, we must make a citizen’s arrest only when necessary, then do it the right way.

Managing Force

Management of the use of force in a Church Safety Ministry begins with training. This leads to practice with situation drills and individual practice of use-of-force skills and discernment exercises. Finally, Church Safety Ministry leadership exercises control over the use of force.

Legal Force

Not only do we have a moral obligation as Christians to act within the limits of the law, but there are criminal and civil liabilities for not doing so. Therefore, we need to know how the law applies to the use of any level of force before we need to decide how to use it.

How Forceful?

In church safety and security, there are times we have to prevent a person from harming himself or herself and/or others, to cause someone to stop an unsafe action, or to keep a situation from getting out of hand. We are using some kind of force when we do this. This brings up the question of what kind of force do we use and at what level.

A Forceful Answer

Attacks on churches in this nation have become more violent over the past two decades as mass killings in general have increased. Obviously, places of worship are not exempt from the dangers faced by society as a whole. The question for us is, “Will we be ready if deadly force visits our church?”

What Now?

Even when we establish policies and procedures in the church to protect our children from abuse, even when we diligently carry out these policies and procedures, and even though we are ever watchful and alert, abuse can still happen. So, what now?

Riding Shotgun

In the Old West, stage coaches and supply wagons with valuable cargo had a guard sitting next to the driver. Serving as a guard came to be called “riding shotgun,” because this guard was often armed with a shotgun. Riding shotgun in child protection is guarding our young ones while we are in the process of ministering to them.

On the Front End

Jesus extended care and protection to children – all children. They are the vulnerable ones, and we should not take unfair advantage of them (abuse), nor allow others in our jurisdiction (the church) to do so. Therefore, we need to take measures for preventing, guarding against, and responding to child abuse in the church.

Hear the Cries

Child abuse is real. It does happen, even in the church or to those the church ministers to. Listen to the cries of children being abused. Find out how to help them in your church.

Equip for Medical Response

As the sheepdogs of our churches, we are called upon to protect the flock. While this covers many areas of general safety, it also involves, when needed, actual physical protection against several levels of violence. In many cases, unarmed defense is sufficient, but sometimes more than hands are needed to defend ourselves and others.

Equip for Medical Response

Emergencies, by their very nature, are unplanned events. When there is a medical emergency in the church or during a church event, we need to be already ready. A life or lives may literally depend on it. This means both training and equipment & supplies.

Equip the Mind, Dress to Serve

If we are to be and do our best as members of a Church Safety Ministry, we must know what we are to do and how. This knowledge should also inform our attitudes. This means we are to listen, read, and study to equip our minds for safety & security.

Have a Safe and Secure Holiday

The key role of a Church Safety Ministry is to protect the church’s members and guests. We try to do this in a way that does not interfere with the church’s ministry unless absolutely necessary. This means that the Holiday Season is a time of extra work for the Safety Team in order to keep the flock safe and able to enjoy and be blessed by the programs and activities of the season.

Killer Down

We train church members to get out if they can when an active killer attacks. We train them in how to hide and how to lock out the attacker. Some members of the Safety Team will help members escape or get them to a lockable space, while others will fight, engage the killer. But it is not only Safety Team members who need to know how to engage an active killer. Congregational members also should know they CAN fight back.

Bar the Door!

For a dozen years, now, there has been an increase in deadly force attacks on churches and other places of worship in the United States. During an attack, hiding is one of the defensive choices. In a school, office, or church, the room you are in may be the best hiding place.

On the Wall

Members of a Church Safety Team are held responsible for the safety of those attending their church, whether members or visitors. If they detect an armed person approaching, they are to sound the alarm, then initiate the defense.

In the Crosshairs

Christian churches are targeted more with each passing year. Whereas criminals once hesitated to break into a church, let alone attack it, now they are more emboldened to target places of worship, not just for theft, but for vandalism, arson, and massacre. Since we are at odds with the viewpoint of the world around us, attacks are to be expected.

Out from Danger

Getting people out of a building in an emergency may be easy for small churches, but more difficult for larger ones. Evacuation can become chaos with the potential of tragic results. Orderly and safe evacuations do not just happen. They are planned. The routes should be kept ready at all times. Everyone needs to know what to do and practice it.

Quench It

We can be diligently working to prevent fires in the church, but what if one starts anyway? How a fire may be suppressed depends on how the building is equipped and what firefighting tools are available. Not only can fires be extinguished by people, they can also be put out by installed fire suppression systems.

Block It

Fire protection begins with fire prevention. This also means putting up roadblocks for fires that do start. This is just as important in churches and other places of worship as it is in homes, businesses, schools, and public buildings.

The Spark

Every fire is either controlled or uncontrolled. Uncontrolled fire is destructive, even fearsome. Understanding what fire is, how it starts, and how it can be quenched is the key to knowing how to control it.

Access Control

We are to be stewards (trustees and property managers) for God. This means that we are to use our assets (including the church’s assets) carefully and wisely. Wise use of resources includes accountability and protection.

Curricula

Some training is required for most church safety and security teams – it should be for all. The real questions are, “What training is needed?” and “Where can we find it?”

Making the Rounds

How much of the church building can you see from just one position? How many safety team members would it take to see the entire place? For thousands of years, those responsible for security and safety have been patrolling – moving around, alert for signs of danger, and purposefully inspecting defenses and seeking evidence. Even with modern means of surveillance, patrolling is just as important today as it was then.

Communication

Communication has always been an ingredient in all kinds of organizations – commercial, governmental, military, social, religious – and in relationships. For a Church Safety Ministry, communication can be in person, by written notes and memos, over two-way radio, and in reports. How does your team communicate?

Setting It Straight

As a Church Safety Ministry, need policies and procedures to conduct our ministry “decently and in order,” and we should follow these. In some cases, not following them can lead to public embarrassment, legal issues, or injuries – perhaps even someone’s death.

Orientation

In a Church Safety Ministry, new members need orientation to the ministry. This includes recruitment, the application process, and learning the qualifications and responsibilities of being a Safety Team member.

Implementation

It is easy to envision a simplistic view of setting up a safety ministry in a church - A few concerned church members agree that we should work together to protect its congregants so they put together a team. In actuality, becoming an effective group with staying power requires some forethought and preparation.

Presentation

If anyone wants something done about safety or security in your church, it is because they have at least one safety concern. A few of the more common concerns are fire safety, child safety, medical emergencies, vandalism and burglary, disruptive behaviors, and armed attacks. The ad hoc approach (which generates more support) is to address a top safety or security concern before proposing an organized ministry.

Blueprint

A church safety ministry does not just happen. Someone has to have some kind of idea what it will be and how it will work. It requires coordination and agreement on how things are done, even if it is just two persons. Even just one person should know what to do in a situation. This means planning.