Twenty years ago when I started my career as a church business administrator and facilities director for a growing church in Phoenix, the need for incorporating a comprehensive safety and security team did not exist. Sure, I had a volunteer patrolling the parking lot during weekend services to protect the cars, but the need to protect the people just didn't exist.
Times have changed, and the idea that churches are off-limits to violence has disappeared. Today, churches have even become targets of violence.
Here are just a few examples of the change:
September 1999 - A man kills seven people, wounds seven, and kills himself at a teen service at Wedgewood Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas.
March 2005 - A man opens fire at a Living Church of God service in Brookfield, Wisconsin. Eight people die, including the gunman.
February 2006 - A gunman opens fire during service at Zion Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Detroit. He kills a woman, wounds two others, then kills himself.
December 2007 - A gunman with a high-powered rifle enters the main foyer at New Life Church in Colorado Springs. He kills three people before a member of the church's armed security staff kills him.
March 2009 - A gunman walks up to the pulpit at First Baptist Church in Marysville, Illinois, and shoots the pastor at point-blank range. When his gun jams, the killer pulls out a knife and slashes two worshipers and himself.
Reading about incidents like these over the past 10 years made me realize that I needed to be proactive and develop a safety and security volunteer force for my church.
From the start, it was clear that I needed a process to help me chart an effective course to building a safety and security team. The process had to be relaxed but effective, and easy to implement and manage. I needed a succinct process with defined steps in order to allow me (or anyone else) to build a volunteer force that would sustain and replicate itself. It had to be organic in nature. Most importantly, it had to provide fulfillment to the individuals giving their time and energy to make it a success.
Over time, the process evolved into a five-step progression:
You can use this model to build any volunteer security and safety organization. Let me briefly explain how each of these steps functions.
It all begins with identifying who you want involved in your ministry.
Make a list of the attributes you want in the individuals you recruit for the safety and security team. Some general characteristics might include: