Whenever there is a tragic shooting at a church in America, there are a lot of people that all of a sudden want to step up and serve. Serving in our churches is so very important for our own walk with God and to be able to serve others in theirs. For many of them they feel that because they might have a concealed carry permit for their state, that they are ready to serve. You may have heard me refer to these people as “certificate holders” that have just enough training to get their certificate but have not invested in furthering their training. But, before we get into this hot topic, let’s look closer at what training is necessary.
The training that you do for your security team, ushers, greeters, children’s workers, and staff needs to be intentional and consistent. Yes, I realize that it can be boring at times. I’ve been doing church security for 10 years and don’t you think that I can think aspects of training can be boring? God has been working on me to change my perspective on many different things in my life. Training is an opportunity for me to hone, refine and improve the skills that I already have. There are always new things that I can learn. This is true when I am out around the county conducting training at churches. When I train it helps remind me of why I do what I do.
There are some specific training that need to happen and all too often I have worked with churches that have flipped this upside down creating a liability issue for their churches should something happen. All the training that we provide is designed so that we don’t lose focus on the church being an open and welcoming environment. So, let’s start where even our law enforcement officers often start.
Verbal De-Escalation: When I teach verbal de-escalation, I take what is offered to law enforcement and have reworked it to work for a ministry. This is training that is important for every ministry of your church. Being able to de-escalate a situation when tempers are rising is vital to keeping situations from getting out of control. There is not a ministry in a church that does not need to be able to do this. We are all broken people with hurts and hang-ups that we bring with us. You never know when you might be able to de-escalate a situation and in turn show the grace, love, and forgiveness that Christ has for that person. This is the foundational skill that you need to have. Failing to know how to deal with tough situations properly is often what leads to situations getting out of hand. It is often our pride and arrogance that can get in the way. Going back to thinking that we have it under control.
Defensive Tactics: This is developing a set of specific skills that are designed to not only keep you safe when verbal de-escalation has broken down, but so you can also remove or detain someone in such a way that is a non-lethal response. We have developed training that goes from the very basics of being able to remove yourself from a situation to being able to extract a disruptive person from your service. You need to have the necessary non-lethal skills because those are the ones that you are going to have to use more often than a lethal response. When I can I train in Aikido and would encourage you to do some sort of martial arts training. The principals in Aikido are what we use when we conduct training at churches.
Lethal Response: I am absolutely surprised at the response I get from churches when it comes to this aspect of security. There is a vast majority that are relying on that, in most cases, untrained “certificate holder” that is just coming to church. I have actually known churches that have put the untrained “certificate holder” on the security team without assessing their skills or any kind of training. There is so much to this aspect of security that we can’t get into every aspect of what is needed before someone serves in this capacity. The exception to this would be that off duty officer. Even military persons need to be assessed and go through training prior to serving in this capacity. I know from experience that what we think we know because of our service to our country is far different than what is needed in serving in our churches. I have even had law enforcement officers tell me that they have to change their mindset when serving because it is vastly different.
This lethal response aspect needs to be well thought out with policies and procedures. Intentional training that starts with a lot of dry fire exercises on drawing from concealed and re-holstering without looking. Tactical and combat reloading. Clearing a variety of issues not only on your gun but on someone else’s (if you don’t know why, contact me and I will explain). Proper trigger pull. Knife verses gun scenario’s. I could go on and on, but I don’t want these newsletters to get to be too much.
There is one aspect of training that I will not go into detail but that does not mean that it is any less vital as part of your training. That would be Medical Training. It is vital that medical training is accomplished regularly so that everyone can treat not only themselves but the people they are serving. You will most likely experience medical issues at your church far more often than any other situation.
Training Adventure: Let’s do a training adventure weekend in your community. We will train on these aspects as well as others. Let us help you with an intentional weekend of physical training from experts in all areas. Let’s make this next year an intentional year of training. Let’s not be complacent when it comes to our people being trained to serve in such a way that your church will see the difference and your intentionality has amplified. Contact us and let’s get it going on some intentional training.