I was in a meeting with a church recently where someone told them that when they arm everyone on the safety team to let them know and they would join. Really? That is not the person that you want serving on your team if they can’t be a team player from the beginning. This should be a ministry to those coming through the door. I love how a friend of mine puts it. The ushers/greeters are there to welcome the people to church and are glad they are there. The security guy is there to welcome people to the church but wonder why they are there. There needs to be a heart of service and a desire to serve those that are coming to church while continuing to maintain the safety and security of all those coming through the doors.
Let’s look at the odds of a church shooting. In a November 6, 2017 article titled “How Common Are Church Shooting?” by Joe Carter in The Gospel Coalition, he writes “There are an estimated 378,000 congregations in the United States, which means the likelihood of any congregation being involved in a shooting in any year is approximately 1 in 126,000 or 0.0000079 percent.” He goes on to say “If we assume that each congregation meets at least once per week, there are a minimum of 19,656,000 church services every year in the United States. That means your odds of being in a church service in which a shooting occurs are at most 1 in 6,552,000 or 0.00000015 percent.”
I bet there will be some pastors and church leaders that will go back to one of many excuses by thinking that it won’t ever happen in their church. They may be right when it comes to a shooting (and they may be very wrong!), but there is a lot of other crime happening in the church. With a record 108 people killed by violence at churches this year, people must realize that there are other assaults and acts of violence that happen every week on church property that does not involve a gun or result in death. It is very disheartening to hear of churches that are shocked when something does happen at their places of worship. We have lived in a society where evil is all around us since the beginning of time. We should not be surprised when it happens. Throughout the Bible we are told to be prepared for what is to come. We know that it will never get better but will get worse. But, I have read the back of the Book and WE WIN! Satan knows he is ultimately defeated in the war, so why do we let him win various battles?
Why would a church want to wait for another incident to happen somewhere or at their church knowing that they could have prepared for it? Wouldn’t it be far better to train and be prepared and never need to use the training then to not be prepared and something terrible happen at your church? I would think so. It is great to see the many churches that are starting to realize that they need to do something. Churches need to realize that this is a whole team concept. Not just a safety and security team development. Every ministry has a role in the safety and security of the church and as such each ministry has an investment into the success of the safety of the church.
When we work with churches or ministries around the country, there are three main training points that they really need to focus on.
- The ability to de-escalate a situation verbally. Most situations can be handled with some proper verbal training.
- Defensive tactics training will help key people to be able to defend themselves, others, and to be able to remove a threat from the congregation quickly.
- Basic CPR/AED/First Aid training.
Additional training that would be important would be:
- Recognizing mental illness in the church
- Pastoral counseling skills training
- R.A.D.A.R (Risk Avoidance by Detecting Aggressive Reactions) training
If there is going to be a firearm component, there is additional hours of training needed. It takes special training to be able to respond to a situation with a firearm. Don’t assume you got enough training because you got the certificate to carry a gun or that you shoot at a paper target occasionally. There is a mindset and skill set that you need to have.
Remember: You won’t rise to the occasion, you will sink to the level of your training and preparation