It can be difficult to understand why anyone would want to harm another person, especially someone they don’t know or have never met. Unfortunately, times are changing and churches are faced with keeping their congregants safe and secure. Smaller churches face even bigger problems due to lack of funding that many big churches have, although there can be an ebb and flow to money that larger churches are able to raise as well. So how do churches keep everyone safe when they can’t afford to hire security services? The answer may be closer than you think.
Look to Your Congregation
When funding for a safety and security team just isn’t there, churches can turn to their congregation for help. Many people are willing to volunteer to keep their families and friends safe when danger is near and are willing to do what it takes to become trained for emergency situations. Doctors and nurses tend to go into medicine because they enjoy helping people and military and law enforcement personnel go into their respective fields understanding the necessity of protecting many people. All these people can prove beneficial to a safety and security team.
Start By Choosing a Natural Leader
To start a safety and security team, a natural leader should be chosen. The best option would be someone with a law enforcement or military background who is willing to lead a team of volunteers who may not know anything about providing security. This person can share their knowledge and create safety plans that can be turned into drills to ensure everyone understands what is expected of them in times of emergency.
How Many Volunteers Do You Need?
There is no specific formula for how many people you need on your safety and security team. Having a security team available for either a small church or a large one is very important for many reasons. We have seen violence in all sizes of churches—it is not selective. Medical emergencies can happen at any church. Its not the size of the team—its just having a team.
Be Reasonable in What to Expect
Most people are pulled in many directions each day. Between work, getting kids to school, cooking and cleaning, hobbies, and finding some downtime, everyone is busy. Finding volunteers may be difficult in some congregations so it’s important to make volunteering as easy and rewarding as possible.
Consider having training sessions during normal church service hours or right before or after so your volunteers aren’t having to make an extra trip. Think about ways to reward your volunteers for their time spent on the team. This could be done with a special plaque at the end of each service year or holding a special ceremony during church service to thank them for all they have done. Someone may not feel they have the skills to teach or pray with others but have the skills necessary to plug in on your security team. A place to belong and give back is what they are looking for but have not found where to use their gifts.
Understand Why Your Volunteers are Already There
Your volunteers are already at church because they want to be there to worship God. If they still want to participate in services, they can ‘double’ as looking like ushers or someone helping church leaders. This can be done while they are still paying attention to what is going on around them and keeping a watchful eye over the services and outside the building. You can have team members rotate to scan the parking lot and greet people at the entrance. Most church members know when someone new comes in the door so the team members can keep an eye on these new people and watch for any suspicious behavior while being inconspicuous.
Everyone wants to be safe and everyone has the right to worship in peace. Creating a safety and security team can provide a safe environment that doesn’t have to impede on church services.