As many of you know, for months I have not done a newsletter/blog topic. I don’t know if with the podcast, seminars, and everything else it just got on the back burner, but neither have I really had any promptings as to what I should cover until the last week or so and I have several topics that have come to mind. The one that has come up repeatedly through a recent seminar and recent podcast I recorded with Greg Atkinson, is the role of the ushers.
Let us start with the concept that I call the “Total Team” concept to the security of the church. This is recognizing that the security of the church is not up to just a few people that have been called to serve by standing on the wall while other ministry is happening. The security of the church must include the staff and the volunteers that are there not just on the weekend but also during the week. Failing to have a security response or the necessary security practices, policies, procedures in place just is not an option for churches any longer since legally there is precedent of violence or crime at churches every week.
When I talk about this at our seminars, I often get conversations during a break explaining that their ushers are so old or unwilling to do anything other than hand out a bulletin. Hopefully there are churches that are training up others and giving them the opportunity to serve in a variety of ministries so that as transition happens over the years there are people being encouraged to serve, but I digress. But, let me clarify that we are not talking about staff and other volunteers having to have the same training or expectations as the ones that have been called to serve in the ministry of the security of the church. There are some basic skills that they do need to have because we know that as a security ministry, we cannot be everywhere all the time for every situation.
The ushers, greeters, children’s workers, youth workers, staff, wedding coordinators, memorial planners, parking teams, etc. are just some of the ministries that are on the front line of engagement with people that are coming to our churches. These people are the ones that are going to have to be vigilant. Some of the training should include but not limited to:
Situational Awareness/OODA Loop – Heads up and engaged with what is going on around us so very important not only when we serve but also in life. There has been so many incidents that had the ministries listed been trained on how to be more aware, the crimes that were committed on church property could have been potentially prevented or a different outcome could have happened. Being aware and either responding or alerting the right people to a situation is vital. If it is an usher, not just focused on handing something out but looking them in the eye and having a greeting. Looking someone in the eye when addressing them is critical.
Verbal De-Escalation/Conflict Resolution – Since we know that the church is there for the hurting and the broken and not just a club for believers to get together, is that usher/greeter/children’s worker/youth worker/staff member, equipped to handle someone who is angry or frustrated over something? Do they know how to communicate in a calm and caring way so that they do not make the situation worse? As I often say in the seminar, many of us think that we are great communicators. I tell the guys to ask their wives if they are great communicators and they will let you know.
Defensive Tactics – Do the people serving know how to create distance in an emergency or other ways to respond to a violent situation. Are the ushers ready to go to a lockdown if necessary? Do they train for that? If someone needs to be escorted from the worship service can that usher maintain crowd control and make a clear path for extraction if necessary? We have had 80+ year old people at our seminars that serve in a variety of roles from church secretary, usher, children’s worker or wedding coordinator etc. that have participated to their ability and have been so thankful that they have some knowledge and confidence to get themselves out of a situation or help in others if necessary. The shooting at the White Settlement church gives a great training resource in regards to this.
I will conclude by encouraging you in some areas:
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