At first, the idea of scheduling your church security volunteers might seem straight forward. However, as with so many things involved in church security, there are extra considerations that might not seem as clear.
There are two main considerations when scheduling your team:
1. Avoiding burnout.
2. Preventing the acceptance of multiple roles within the church.
Avoiding burnout might seem easy at first. However, new officers quickly learn that working church security is much more tiring and strenuous that it first appears. The challenge is the director of security must always be mindful that the volunteers need to be able to have services where they are there as a participant and can attend church for the ultimate reason, to grow closer to God and develop and nurture their faith.
If a volunteer works multiple services over several weeks, it becomes very hard to turn it off. In other words, he stops seeing church as a place to worship and always approaches it from a tactical standpoint.
Certainly, it should be made clear that if someone is part of the security team, even if he or she is not scheduled that day and there is a true situation such as a physical altercation, help would be expected. However, it should also be made clear that the team can function without her help, that unless there is a true all hands-on deck emergency, the off-duty officer is just that: off duty.
It is much easier to accept the idea of truly being off-duty and in church as a worshiper and nothing else if the schedule permits adequate breaks. It is recommended to avoid more than three weeks of continued scheduling as an on-duty volunteer officer. This allows for physical, spiritual and emotional rest and recovery and maintains the critical healthy balance between being a church member and a security team volunteer.
The second consideration of the multiple-roles mindset is one that most directors encounter very early on after forming the security team. An example is if the church drummer is also a volunteer for the security team. When trying to provide adequate coverage early on Sunday morning, it is very tempting to say, "John (the drummer) gets here at 7:30 to practice, and he is on the security team, so we don’t need an early morning officer that Sunday, he can cover it!"
Wrong! His job is to focus on the songs for that morning’s worship set list. It is not just unfair to him to place that burden on him, it is dangerous. The church will simply not be as protected if he is up there focusing on his music and expected to somehow still be on duty for security as if is so much as one officer reported early for his shift.
Many small to medium sized churches will have volunteer security officers who have multiple roles within the church. So whether they are sound, the drummer, maintenance, a child-care worker, if their job is not security for that service, you cannot expect them to "double up," and place that responsibility on this person.
It must be made clear to the entire church, from the pastor to the congregation, that if an individual is not on the security schedule for that service or event, do not presume to place that responsibility on him. This will also lead to a greater sense of professionalism and respect. This makes it clear that security is its own department/ministry and while there might be a crossover of duties in a crisis situation, in regular services, there is a clear delineation between roles.
Certainly, in smaller churches that have just formed a security team, these challenges are even harder to avoid. However, like most things, an awareness of the issues and striving to avoid them will usually lead to creative solutions.
A final consideration on scheduling: make sure that in addition to the required communication meetings with the church leadership, the scheduling of officers and scheduled training…schedule fun! Make sure that the entire team is show appreciation by lunches and other fun events.
The next article in this series on church security fundamentals will cover dress codes and uniforms. Be safe, be purposeful and be tactical and may the Lord continue to bless and protect your church and your team.