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Articles (Blog)

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.