How to Start a Church Safety Ministry in 5 Simple Steps
These Steps may appear to be over simplified, but notice I said "simple" not necessarily "easy." (A little prayer may be in order during the process.)
#1 Recruit Like Minded Individuals (Christian Sheepdogs)
Good candidates are current or retired Law Enforcement Officers, Firefighters, Emergency Medical Professionals and Military Veterans. You may also find volunteers who have always had a heart to serve and protect others. The key in this step is to start having conversations with your fellow congregants about safety and security at your church. Sheepdog Church Security has a Directors Forum that can inform your conversations.
#2 Identify Easy-Sell Projects
It’s not uncommon for some people in the church to be hesitant about a Church Safety Ministry. Their objections vary from “Doesn’t God protects us?” to “How’s this going to affect other ministries?” At the heart of their hesitancy is a fear about the reality of violence and crime in the Church. For this reason, I suggest starting with an “easy-sell” safety program. For example, Fire Safety and Drills, Medical Emergencies, Severe Weather Drills and Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection are risks most people have accepted as possible and worthy of addressing.
#3 Schedule a Meeting with the Pastor
Once you have selected one project to work on meet with the Pastor. Explain to him that you and your team would like to create a plan to address the risk. He may have some tough questions for you like, “Who is going to lead the ministry?” and “What kinds of resources (people and money) are going to be needed?” Be prepared. Most importantly, don’t assume the need for a Safety Ministry is self-evident. Research the risk and have some facts ready. But don’t overwhelm him with the entire plan. Keep it to one project that you and your team want to complete. (My personal favorite: Fire Drills for the Children's Ministry.)
#4 Research and Develop
There are a lot of resources online and locally you can use to develop your plan. Sheepdog Church Security has a FREE Online Security Guide to help you. Keep the plan simple and as easy as possible for the church to implement. Think Progress Over Perfection!!! Or as General Patton put it, “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” Once again, your plan only needs to bring your church a couple of steps closer to a safer church.
#5 Train and Equip Your Team
With your plan completed, you will need to set aside some time to train your team and others. Make sure everyone involved completely understands the plan and they can execute it without you. In a real emergency, the team should know exactly what to do without promptings by you.
Your team may need some equipment to work the plan. Keep in mind there is a difference between Must-Haves and Nice-to-Haves. In a medical emergency, it would be nice to have an AED (which may be too expensive for your church), but a CPR face mask is a must have. Unless you’re rich, ask yourself, “What equipment do we really need for the plan?” And once again, think Progress Over Perfection.