Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life (Psalm 23:6a)
As members of the church’s safety and security team, we are stewards of the well being of God’s people, His house of worship, and (in Old Testament terminology) aliens (non-member regular attendees) and sojourners (visitors and guests). As such, we are responsible not only to the Safety/Security Director, the Safety/Security Committee and the Board of Trustees (or Elders). We are responsible to God. We are His ministers (servants).
As Paul wrote to the Corinthians, a steward (anyone with a job) is expected to be faithful. This means doing what needs to be done, and doing it diligently. And this means taking care of the basics. Several scholars think that “goodness and mercy” in Psalm 23:6 refers to the shepherd’s dogs. The dogs were trained to help the shepherd guide the flock, keeping strays from wandering too far and protecting the sheep and lambs by chasing away wolves, bears, lions and robbers. As safety and security staff and/or volunteers in the church, we are like the shepherd’s dogs, the sheepdogs. It is our duty to protect the flock.
Being faithful means taking care of what always needs to be done, the basics. Many of us remember hearing about the famous football coach whose team performed poorly in the first half of the game. In the locker room at halftime, he held up the pigskin and said, “Gentlemen, this is a football.” The message was clear: “We have to get back to basics.”
Every job has its basics. We begin with the basics, and we build on the basics. By the way, it is worthwhile noting that Bill Gates’ wealth is largely attributed to his development of a computer language called “BASIC.”
Safety Team Member Basics
There are several basics in regard to protecting a church. Some we already know, but must be included anyway.
First, SIGN ON, ENLIST. Most of us don’t just fall into the job. If the Safety/Security job is a staff position, we apply. If it is a volunteer position, we sign up. If the Safety/Security Committee and Director are doing their jobs, they will have you fill out an application and conduct a background check.
- You must be physically able to do the job.
- You must be able to read and write well enough to understand written information, instructions, regulations and guidelines, and to write reports.
- You must be morally and spiritually qualified.
- You must be able to pass a background check.
TRAIN. As safety/security team members, we need to be trained. Even if we are already trained and skilled in the field of security and police work, we should at least be oriented to the premises, people and policies of where we serve. And we need to learn aspects of the job particular to houses of worship.
BE ALERT. Ezekiel used the analogy of a watchman on the city wall to describe his call as a prophet. For us this is more literal. The watchman on the wall, the guard in the tower, and the sentry at the gate must be alert to any sign of danger. A faithful watchman will be observant. He will study what he sees and senses to discern if it is a treat to the city, the camp, or the church. A mother bear is alert to any threat to her cubs.
Remaining alert can be a challenge at times. One job description for a security guard is someone not easily distracted. We must be able to focus on what is needed regardless of distractions. We do not have to totally dismiss everything else, but stay on point even when aware of whatever is going on around us, unless it becomes more important.
On the other hand, the enemy of alertness can be the opposite of distractions: boredom. Remaining watchful may be boring much of the time. Keeping alert when basically bored can be a real challenge. An unknown author referred to "Long periods of boredom punctuated by moments of terror." A current proverb says, “Complacency kills. Stay alert; stay alive.” Keeping alert may keep threats from becoming “moments of terror.”
KNOW THE POLICIES. KNOW THE RULES. Every business, government agency, institution, denomination and congregation has its own regulations, bylaws and policies. It pays to know and follow those which apply to us.
SIGN UP. Unless you are already assigned to certain days and shifts, sign up for slots to work. Don’t try to keep all the most convenient times for yourself. Volunteer to work your share of service times and Sunday School hours. Rotation should spread the work load fairly for all team members.
- Show up for your duty slot, whether you sign for it or are assigned. Being there when needed is essential to your mission.
- Show up on time. A good rule is to be early enough to debrief whomever you are relieving.
- Show up ready. Be dressed for the job, whether it be a special shirt, jacket, or badge. Have the required equipment with you.
BE DILIGENT. Diligence is part of faithfulness. Diligence is doing what needs to be done, paying attention to how we do it. We often describe people’s diligence by saying, “They did that job faithfully.”
BE LOYAL. For us, the sheepdogs, this is the most important basic. Without loyalty, nothing else matters. Dogs have become companions and workers for people, including shepherds, because of their loyalty. In fact, the Hebrew name Caleb means both “dog” and “loyal.” The church depends on us. People depend on us. Can God depend on us?
We study and equip ourselves so we can be more effectively diligent, building on the basics. More instruction and resources on the basics of safety and security in the church can be had through the Church Safety Team Academy at Sheepdog Church Security.