As we head into the “Snowbird” season, we as church safety team members need to understand that our assignments are going to grow in the upcoming season. For those of you that do not live in Florida, “Snowbirds” are not our migratory feathered friends but temporary residents who spend their summers in the northern part of America and their winters in Florida. Recently while talking to a church safety team member from another church, he told me that the membership of his church almost doubles when the “Snowbirds” come home. Does that mean our duties change? No. But it does mean there is more of a chance that something can happen on any given Sunday. Medical emergencies, new faces on your campus and an opportunity for more wolves to visit.
I have no proof that church issues increase when “Snowbirds” come home, and I am not insinuating that “Snowbirds” are the cause of any increase. Yet I do know a recent Family Research Council’s (FRC) study showed there has been a rise in crimes against the churches in 2023. In their findings they pointed out that acts of hostility against churches has increased three times the amount in 2023 than in the same time in 2022. Vandalisms, arsons, gun-related incidents, and bomb threats have increased with vandalism being at the top. The report points out that most vandalism appeared to have been committed by youth or persons struggling with mental illness yet some of these attacks against the churches show signs of being motivated by hate against the church itself.
If that is not enough, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported in September, 2023 that “At least 49 synagogues have been evacuated due to bomb threats in the last 2 months.” Understand that this is not around the world, this is in the United States. The Anti-Defamation League expects these threats to continue because of High Holidays beginning soon.
In addition, the U.S. Surgeon General’s Advisory on the Healing Effects of Social Connection and Community, produced a study “Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation.” They reported that loneliness is a public health threat as severe as smoking and obesity. It went on to state, “Belonging – A fundamental human need—the feeling of deep connection with social groups, physical places, and individual and collective experiences.” Responding to the epidemic of loneliness and isolation, psychiatrist Daniel Amen is concerned that social media is so addicting, and loneliness and isolation is only going to get worse. Yet, Doctor Amen had a great answer to this problem. He told CBN news “So, it’s back to church,” he said. “Go back to church. Get involved. Get involved with groups. We have to go back. And really, no better place to solve it than the church.” Amen, Doctor Amen.
We in Florida look forward to when the “Snowbirds” come south. It is a time of reunion with all our friends who go back and forth. It is a time to catch up, worship and break bread together. Kind of sounds like when we all go to be with the Father in Heaven. Yet during this time of fellowship, we know that possible threats are still out there and we as Safety Team Members must always be alert to those that come to our churches. During this time we should be looking to invite those that are looking for answers to unanswered questions and those in search of a winter home church. This is where Safety Team members should shine. Sharing the Gospel to those that will listen and keeping the wolves at the gates.
Be safe and be blessed.
In Gavin de Becker’s book “The Gift of Fear,” he talks about protective/restraining orders. Here in Florida we call it an “injunction for protection.” He also calls it a factor in the most predictable crime, spousal homicide. Without going into much detail, de Becker talks about the mental aspect the receiver of the injunction (subject) goes through which could put the person getting the injunction (complainant) in grave danger, possibly even more danger than when they were living in the abusive relationship. This is not to say that we are against an abused spouse getting an injunction, it is just saying that when a member of your church produces an injunction against someone in your church, you need to pay special attention to the situation.
We at Generations Christian Church recently had a situation where the subject showed up on property. Trying to take the Christian attitude and reason with the subject, they were advised of the injunction and if they didn’t leave the church, we would contact local law enforcement. While leaving the property the subject located the complainant and proceeded to physically attack the complainant. Fortunately, the complainant was not seriously injured but the subject did get to the complainant before Safety Team Members were able to intervene.
If you or your church ever has a subject on your property that has an outstanding injunction against them, the first thing you should do is contact and inform local law enforcement of the situation. Get them on the way to your location. Tell the subject that local law enforcement is on their way. While communicating with the subject, find the complainant and advise them of the situation and keep them away from the subject. Do not let the subject anywhere near the complainant for fear of an altercation. If at all possible video the incident for both parties’ protection. Even though we want to do the Christian thing and witness to the subject, this is not the time or place. Keep both parties apart from each other and let local law enforcement handle the situation. We were lucky, the subject only physically assaulted the complainant in our incident, the subject could have easily produced a weapon and done serious injury to the complainant. Just as de Becker called spousal homicide from injunctions as one of the most predictable crimes, we must always be on high alert during these situations, and not let what happened to us happen to you while on your watch. Be safe and be blessed.
Two years ago, one of my good friends, mentor and board member, Mark Graham told me that hat every year God lays a word on his heart and all year long he focuses on that word to bring glory to the Kingdom of God. My word for 2022 was unity. I prayed all year that God would bring unity back to this country and use me anywhere possible to make this happen. With all of the division in every walk of life, it felt this country was on a downhill spiral and would take a miracle to bring us together. It appeared around every corner someone was trying to divide us as a country, people and even religion. The hate that was being exhibited was sometimes hard to fathom or justify. A lot of my Christian friends were afraid to voice their opinion or beliefs because of fear they would be cancelled, banished on social media, or even shunned by family and friends (sounds like the Jewish followers of Christ in the New Testament). There didn’t
appear to be a safe place to go and escape the “politically correct” or “woke” mentality. I personally felt the attacks in relationship and while doing our video/podcast with Kevin Haggerty on True Christian Talk. Facebook and YouTube both threatened to kick us off their platforms. We didn’t start out wanting to add to the divide but sometimes when you speak what God has place on your heart you ruffle a few feathers.
So my word for 2023 is revival. I felt this was the only way we could recover from all the turmoil that was being shown across the world. It didn’t take long for God to show me that revival was the right word for the year. On Monday night January 2, 2023, Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin made a routine tackle on Cincinnati Bengals’ receiver Tee Higgins. Hamlin jumped up after the play only to take a couple of steps before collapsing back on the field. Initial review looked like maybe Hamlin had gotten the wind knocked out of him, but as more and more medical team members started gathering around Hamlin you could feel the seriousness of the situation. As we watched the medical team worked on Hamlin, we saw team members from both sides kneeling and praying for their fallen teammate, my word revival came to mind. I was watching grown men from the NFL making a statement that when one goes down, the others go to their knees and pray for the fallen. Even former Detroit Lions quarterback and ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky said a 45 second prayer for Hamlin while live on “NFL Live”.
But it didn’t take long for the nay-sayers to come at Damar Hamlin and how the country prayed for him and in return he wore a jacket that people couldn’t wait to talk about. How Hamlin was disrespectful and blasphemy because the back of the jacket bore the word ‘Eternal’ above the doll-like figure being crucified. First I thought the jacket was ugly but not disrespectful, one I wouldn’t wear. But after the criticism Hamlin responded with ‘After talking with my parents I understand how my coat could have offended some people,’ ‘It was never my intentions to hurt or disrespect anyone, the coat is abstract art to me. It says Eternal which I am Eternally thankful to my Savior!’. I am beginning to like this kid more and more.
Less than a month later, the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs were bound for the Super Bowl LVII. The media could not stop talking about how history was going to be made on February 12, 2023. It would be the first time in NFL history that two black quarterbacks would be starting in a Super Bowl. What wasn’t talked about as much was that both quarterbacks openly confessed that they were followers of Jesus Christ. You can find articles out there about Hurts and Mahomes being devout Christians but only a few news channels felt that it was important to report. To me, the story the mainstream media only wanted you to hear was about their skin color and not what is really important, their souls.
Then on February 8 th , 2023, at Asbury University a morning chapel service went from normal to full blown worldwide, revival. It is estimated that over the next two weeks there were over 50,000 Christians, people searching for answers, and just curious onlookers made their way to Wilmore, Kentucky to see God’s hand at work. Tom McCall, a writer for Christianity Today, wrote about the Asbury Revival, 1 “As an analytic theologian, I am weary of hype and very wary of manipulation. I come from a background (in a particularly revivalist segment of the Methodist-holiness tradition) where I’ve seen efforts to manufacture “revivals” and “movements of the Spirit” that were sometimes not only hollow but also harmful. I do not want anything to do with that.
And truth be told, this is nothing like that. There is no pressure or hype. There is no manipulation. There is no high-pitched emotional fervor. To the contrary, it has so far been mostly calm and serene. The mix of hope and joy and peace is indescribably strong and indeed almost palpable—a vivid and incredibly powerful sense of shalom. The ministry of the Holy Spirit is undeniably powerful but also so gentle”. Yet with what seemed to be an extraordinary movement of the Holy Spirit in the life of so many, the dividers started to come out and put their spin on whether it was a true Jesus moment. For every article that was written if it is the real thing, there are just as many saying, “maybe we should wait and see”, “there was a woman pastor” or “I have been to “revivals” like this before and it was all hype.” All I can say is if one-tenth of those that visited Asbury during this “revival” turned to Christ, repented, or made a new dedication to follow Him, it is a time for celebration.
So what does this have to do with church safety. It does not matter how much Gospel you can preach, there will always be those that want to shut it down and not bask in the glory of God and the Holy Spirit’s moment. They will always be those out there, till Jesus’s comes back. So we as Safety Team Members must be on guard at all times. We must also take a stand and when we see moments like these we must be on the front lines to protect those making a difference in the lives of others or the status of the country. In Mark 9:38-41 we find the disciples come to Jesus complaining of others doing things in His name, “Teacher,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.”
“Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us. Truly I tell you, anyone who gives you a cup of water in my name because you belong to the Messiah will certainly not lose their reward.” David Guzik said “There are many that may be wrong in some aspect of their presentation or teaching, yet they still set forth Jesus in some manner. Let God deal with them.”
Let us rejoice when Christ’s name is spoken in salvation. Let us help those that might not have the full picture of who Christ is and what He can do, but do not stop those that might be new in Christ but wanting to share the Word. Protect them and guild them in the proper teachings. Remember you are a watchmen and part of your job is to “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20. Be safe and be blessed.
Happy New Year. There are so many changes happening here at Trinity Security Allies. Last year we focused on the true meaning of the Watchmen (men and women) who protect the flock. This has taken us a couple of months to really put it all together. So, we want to share with you the paradigm shift that we have taken at Trinity Security Allies.
Church pastors used to cringe when someone talked about having a “church security team.” Our first “security team” was formed because our church was having a fundraiser for our new property and large amounts of offering money was being collected on Sundays. This was making management nervous. So, the church formed its first “security team” just to protect the money and nothing else. It wasn’t till we had one of our members threaten to beat up his ex-in-laws on campus and later that week we found out this member was the primary suspect in a murder case.
This caused the church to reexamine the purpose of a security team. But even in those moments, church leaders whispered that we had “security.” We were told to stand on the wall, don’t say anything and we could only be called to action if something went really bad. We even had a slide in our training, “If you saw something (non-threatening) that needed to be addressed you would contact a minister on duty. Safety (Security) Team Members were not the first point of contact unless the situation was an immediate threat to the church.” Other than that, they kept church security in the shadows.
We have always trained there are three types of people that come into your church, those that are members, those that are hurting, and the wolf in sheep’s clothing. Our training focuses more on the last two types. As a Christian, we need to administer aid to those that are hurting. They come in looking for help and are maybe one step away from doing something they may regret. Sometimes even wolves in sheep clothing can have a change of heart. The shooter in the AME church stated during his interrogation that “he almost didn’t go through with it because everyone was so nice to him.” Nobody paid attention to that statement, if given the possibility of changing the mind of a killer, shouldn’t we lean heavily on the Holy Spirit to change that lost soul? No, we went the other way, security companies added a tab on their website that said they did church security training with the emphasis on active shooter.
Visiting a church in Alabama I witnessed a church safety leader teaching his team how to take a firearm away from an armed suspect. This leader’s expertise was a video he had seen on YouTube. Even if you have hours of training on how to disarm a person, you have to practice it all the time. Having faced that situation as a police officer, I can promise you, if the person pointing the gun at me would have known how to use the weapon, I would not be writing this today and I had been trained on how to take a gun away from someone. Getting a fifteen-minute training on something this serious will get you killed, but that is the mentality we see across the country with church safety, too much emphasis on the gun and not the soul.
We know that having someone come into your church intent on killing someone is a reality and a part of our training focuses on active shooter. Yet in my heart I kept going back to the piece about those that are needing spiritual aid must be attended to. When Jesus Christ commanded us in the Great Commission, Matthew 18:19-20 “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” There is no * at the end of this that says, “Except for Safety Team Members”, Christ’s command is “GO.”
Still certain churches continued to push back on our training because it wasn’t macho enough. We run into churches all the time that their safety team members are wannabe police officers or bouncers at a bar. Even pastors started getting into the whole security concept and were encouraging their safety teams to wear golf shirts with “Security” on the back or coming up with cool names for their safety teams like the Critical Response Team, CRT, instead of focusing on what the Watchmen were really supposed to be doing and that is expanding the Kingdom of God. The first time we proposed the idea that we are servants of the church and not the semi-military of the church we took flack. While talking to one safety team leader about the idea that his safety team members needed to be the ambassadors of the church and talking to people about Christ, he told me that half his team would quit if he put that perception in front of his team. So, I turned to God and asked Him for some wisdom.
While going through my Bible I found my answer and a promise that caused me to realize I was on the right path. 1 Peter 5:2-4 says “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.” Such beautiful verses with a promise from the Father of a reward that all church safety team members will receive on His return.
So, we at Trinity Security Allies now take a different approach to church safety. We as the watchman must understand that our first responsibility is to expand the Kingdom of God. When we study Ezekiel 33, 1 through 6, God is warning the Watchman of his responsibilities when outside dangers come against the people, but we stop at verse 6. Yet we continue to read on, verses 7 through 9 are quite clear on our other responsibilities as the Watchman. “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to the wicked, ‘You wicked person, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade them from their ways, that wicked person will die for their sin, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. But if you do warn the wicked person to turn from
their ways and they do not do so, they will die for their sin, though you yourself will be saved.”, Ezekiel 33:7-9. You who want to claim the title of the Watchman on the Wall have a higher responsibility than just looking for an active shooter, you are an Ambassador for Christ, and this position must not be taken lightly.
The first safety team I presented this concept to was my own. I still have a few members that push back just a little, but the majority of the team see church safety as a ministry, not a position of power. In fact, I have seen the change in our team by the way they interact with first-time guests. They introduce themselves as a member of the church and not a member of the safety team. They will offer aid and assistance. They provide information of the activities of the church, children’s ministry, small groups and will even listen to their story. In this interaction it gives the watchmen the opportunity to assist and also assess if this person they are talking to might be either a threat, in need of spiritual help or, my favorite, a potential safety team member. The biggest change I am now seeing in the pastors, staff, and members of the church is the love and respect they have for the safety team. When they see the ones who would lay down their lives for those they protect, being a genuine Ambassador for Christ, they see a true example of the Chief Shepard in their midst.
Isiah 54:7-8 tells of how important the watchmen on the walls are. Not only do we watch out for the enemy or help those in need, but we also shout the good news that “our God reigns!”
“How beautiful on the mountains
are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace,
who bring good tidings,
who proclaim salvation,
who say to Zion,
“Your God reigns!”
Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices;
together they shout for joy.
When the Lord returns to Zion,
they will see it with their own eyes.”
Be safe and be blessed and looking forward to seeing you in 2023.
For more information on church safety / security, contact Jim@TrinitySecurityAllies.com
On February 22nd, 2022, CBN (The Christian Broadcasting Network) published an article titled "Homeland Security Official: Worst Terror Environment in 30+ years, Concern for Houses of Worship". The report quoted statements from John Cohen, the Department of Homeland Security's (DHS) coordinator for Counterterrorism and assistant secretary for Counterterrorism and Threat Prevention Policy. At a conference, Cohen stated, "The threat environment is probably the most volatile and dynamic that I've experienced in my 35+ year career," he said. "We're at a period of time in this country where we have to be very serious, where we can come together and respond to the threat." Pretty serious, wouldn't you think? Cohen continued with the concerns outlined in a special DHS National Terrorism Advisory System Bulleting (NTASB) that came out on February 07th, 2022. Every church safety/security consultant has passed the CBN document to all their clients and constituents, warning of doom and gloom. When I saw this report, I thought the government was catching up after all the years of warnings we talked about, but then I read the NTASB report, which appears most didn't, but they should have.
The first paragraph of the NTASB document starts planting the seeds of what is about to happen to free speech. "The United States remains in a heightened threat environment fueled by several factors, including an online environment filled with false or misleading narratives and conspiracy theories, and other forms of mis- dis- and mal-information (MDM) introduced and/or amplified by foreign and domestic threat actors. These threat actors seek to exacerbate societal friction to sow discord and undermine public trust in government institutions to encourage unrest, which could potentially inspire acts of violence." So far, so good, but go on, these following two sentences we need to dissect just a little. "While the conditions underlying the heightened threat landscape have not significantly changed over the last year, the convergence of the following factors has increased the volatility, unpredictability, and complexity of the threat environment: (1) the proliferation of false or misleading narratives, which sow discord or undermine public trust in U.S. government institutions…."
Reviewing the first statement, "While the conditions underlying the heightened threat landscape have not significantly changed over the last year…", yet the headline read "Worst Terror Environment in 30+ years". That sounds pretty scary. It also points toward Houses of Worship need to be on alert. The second sentence states the number one threat is "the proliferation of false or misleading narratives, which sow discord or undermine public trust in U.S. government institutions….". What does this statement mean to the average person? False and misleading narratives?
DHS continued with, "For example, there is widespread online proliferation of false or misleading narratives regarding unsubstantiated widespread election fraud and COVID-19. Grievances associated with these themes inspired violent extremist attacks during 2021." Please help me here. After January 6th, have you seen any violent extremist attacks during 2021 over the 2020 election? I still feel there are a lot of unanswered questions about the 2020 election that we might never get answers to. I believe that there was election fraud, but I only know of one attack linked back to the 2020 election.
Then the reference to COVID-19 misinformation, is the DHS warning talking about the parents in Virginia? In multiple articles, parents were tired of the mask mandates that public schools were enforcing when the science showed the harm of children wearing masks. A German study of 25,000 children showed that masks harmed children physically, behaviorally, and psychologically.
In this report, the University of Witten/Herdecke created an online registry where parents, doctors, and pediatricians could enter their observations of children wearing masks. Over 25,930 entries were recorded in this study on adverse effects on children wearing masks over 4 hours a day. Even our own American Medical Association (AMA) stated that forcing children to wear face masks has adverse health effects.
On September 29th, 2021, the National School Boards Association (NSBA) sent a letter to the President of the United States asking the Department of Justice (DOJ) to classify parents who were criticizing how the school boards were forcing masks mandates critical race theory as a domestic terrorist. While NSAB was requesting the DOJ to classify parents as domestic terrorists, the National Education Association (NEA) was demanding leaders of Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok to place algorithms that would flag and remove posts that gave "misinformation" of critical race theory (CRT).
In the October 08th, 2021, NEA letter to the three big social media groups, "We're calling on your companies to take this threat (parents stating their concerns on masks and CRT) seriously and prioritize the safety of people over profits – you can help put an end to the stream of propaganda fueling violence against educators in our communities. Your companies have both the power and responsibility to stamp out disinformation and violent trends – for the sake of Public Education and the future of democracy. To that end, we're demanding that your companies make a public pledge to students, educators, and their families to regulate lies and fix your algorithms to put public safety over profits."
Once again, their words sound justified, and the list of examples would put anyone on alert. Still, if you truly understand what they were saying, anyone who speaks against issues like masks on children, CRT, or books that were so vulgar that school boards would not read them out loud, must be flagged or taken down. Again, this is an attack on free speech, and is this what DHS is referring to in their document as a "heightened threat environment?"
Some of you may say, "Facebook is a privately owned company, and they can block who they want," technically yes. But in a 2013 article, the Washington Examiner pointed out that the State Department spent over $600,000.00 on Facebook 'likes'. But that was back in 2013, you may say. Then read the February 4th, 2021, Time Magazine's article "The Secret History of the Shadow Campaign That Saved the 2020 Election". This article points out there was "an extraordinary shadow effort dedicated not to winning the vote but ensuring it…." It goes on to say, "This is the inside story of the conspiracy to save the 2020 election…" and "a well-funded cabal of powerful people, ranging across industries and ideologies, working together behind the scenes to influence perceptions, change rules and laws, steer media coverage and control the flow of information." See what I mean by unanswered questions. This Time article admits there was a plot against then President Trump.
So, the number one item of the "current heightened threat environment" in the National Terrorism Advisory System Bulleting list may be a moot point. It appears that the COVID restrictions are all but gone. Most of us have moved on and realized that we have at least three more years of an administration that has an agenda that does not appeal to most conservatives. We can see it in the polls, and those of us old enough have been here before, and we will probably see it again if nothing changes. So, we should just continue with our lives and let God run the show, right? But before we relax and get cozy in our recliners and wait for the next season of "Chosen," let me point out what just came off the press. It might change your thought about getting too comfortable because the war has just begun. You must wait for my next blog to hear about the next shot fired at conservative Christians. Let me just say this, maybe now is the time for a Christian Revolution. See you next month.
Jim has many years of law enforcement experience and has run the safety team at his church for several years. TSA was formed after he realized God's calling when multiple churches reached out and asked him to present at their church.