There is no other branch of security like church security. It is a very unique discipline that is part science, part art and part natural ability.
Certainly there are key components that are inherent in all proper security: an understanding of command presence, how to effectively be a visible deterrent, radio discipline and even uniform and dress code considerations.
Further, there must be an understanding of proper tactics such as what - if any - weapons to carry, restraining techniques, patrol methodology and legal training to include an understanding of use of force and limitations on acceptable interactions with belligerent and combative subjects.
In addition to the standard security measures, a church security team must understand how to minimize church flow disruptions and have the ability to recognize the difference between suspicious behavior and a distraught individual coming to church for help.
As discussed in previous articles, pastors and church leaders often feel overwhelmed when they first start thinking about putting a security team in place and the many details involved.
However, as they quickly find out, with even a weekend of proper training; a purposeful, tactical and effective Church Protection Team can be created and implemented.
Heart & Intent
While all of the above concepts, techniques, knowledge and concerns must be a part of a proper team, there is one final key to church security that is absolutely unique to this discipline: heart and intent.
Usually, when someone is training to become a security officer; it is because they have an interest in learning security. In other words, it is not necessarily because they are thinking about a specific facility that they want to protect; rather, the individual has decided that he or she wants to become a security officer in general.
In a church setting however, volunteers for the Church Protection Team may have never had any real interest in security; however they may have decided that it’s time to step up and help protect his beloved church. There is a saying, "The greater the sacrifice, the greater the value attached."
This saying best sums up why even the most inexperienced individual with absolutely no background in law enforcement, military, martial arts or security training of any kind can still be an incredibly effective and someday…elite level Church Protection Team member.
When you have an individual that will volunteer to arrive early and stay late, that will patrol that dark parking lot on a Wednesday night during service, that understands their job is to run towards danger and not away from it…then that person has a heart and a love for their church and fellow brothers and sisters in Christ that will help to elevate them to a higher level officer. These attributes are not something which can be taught.
This volunteer has a heart to protect others and intent to do the absolute best job possible, even if training opportunities, budget, equipment and other considerations are less than ideal.
Heart and intent. It is a critical factor in so many ways. It is very easy for a small church to feel overwhelmed and ill prepared in the first few weeks of having a security team in place. A key concept to remember is that one somewhat inexperienced officer with the proper heart and intent can be just as effective as a seasoned officer that sees her post as just a job and nothing more.
This is not to say that a church should take a lackadaisical approach to training. Certainly, a church should explore every training option available. Still, it is important to know that finding volunteers with heart and intent; that Church Protection Team member whose main desire is to protect their beloved church is absolutely invaluable.
As this purposeful, intentional individual gains experience in church security, while retaining these critical components, a team will form that will surpass most expectations. Whether it is a small rural church on a country road or a megachurch in the heart of the city, a church that has officers filled with heart and intent will be safer as they come together to worship God as the newly formed team watches over them.