The other day, Wendy received an email from an attendee of one of our training courses. The header of the email issued a dire warning to church security teams. “Congress to Outlaw Church Security Teams.” Usually, I look at titles like this as clickbait. In this divided country I can pull up all sorts of occurrences where main-stream media and the government speak of not being a friend of Christianity, and this one seemed a little farfetched. If you would have said “New York Senate wants to band weapons in church” I would have just said, “that’s so New York.” But to see that congress was getting into the church security business didn’t really add up, so I went and looked at the bill this video was talking about.
The bill is S.3589 - Preventing Private Paramilitary Activity Act of 2024. When did church safety teams become a Private Paramilitary organization? I have been all over this country teaching churches how to set up “safety teams” and not one time have I heard anyone call themselves a private paramilitary group for the church. I know that is not what we teach and there has never been a wink-wink, nod-nod from some of the safety team members that would lead me to believe they were anything of the sort. Who was this organization that produced a nine-and one-half minute video calling church safety teams, paramilitary units. I went to their website and wasn’t surprised. Their description starts with “If you love guns and you love Jesus, you're in the right place.”
So, I went out and read the bill. First, I don’t think it will pass congress and most states already have a bill like this. Florida has one, “Paramilitary training; teaching or participation prohibited, Florida State Code 790.29.” Just as FSC 790.29 and S.3589 state they don’t want people running around out here forming paramilitary groups that train with the idea of causing civil disobedience. While reading S.3589, I could not find any reference to churches, religious organizations, or anything to the effect of a church security team. So now I have to go out and watch the nine-and one-half minute video where this company has now put the fear of God (no pun intended) into members of the church that if this bill is passed and you have a security team the government is going to come and knock on their doors.
So two minutes into the video I realized this was nothing more than clickbait and also a person that was wanting to create havoc between the church and our government. There is nothing in this bill that has to do with churches and their church security teams. First the creator of this video states that the “Paramilitary Act” “that wants to establish a federal prohibition on paramilitary groups. It targets activities that intimidate state and local officials, interfere with government proceeding, impersonate law enforcement, and violate individuals’ constitutional rights.” How is this connected to church security teams? Then the creator weakly uses one of the definitions of the bill “(9) PRIVATE PARAMILITARY ORGANIZATION. —The term ‘private paramilitary organization’ means any group of 3 or more persons associating under a command structure for the purpose of functioning in public or training to function in public as a combat, combat support, law enforcement, or security services unit.” and he claims the last part “security services unit.”, is the definition of a church security team.
Let’s break this down. Church security, unless paid, is mostly all voluntary. Church security teams may have volunteers that are law enforcement, but it still does make the rest of the team police officers. In most states a security guard has to have a license from his or her state that says such, but usually when they volunteer at a church that license might not mean anything at all as far as their jurisdiction or powers. I tell all volunteer church security teams (and we call them safety teams), you are not the police, you are not military, and you are not a security guard, so going back to the video, all this speaker is doing is trying to create disorder. Another thing that concerns me, when talking to church leadership and their anxiety of safety teams because of liability issues, let your pastor read this bill and explain to him the safety team is now a paramilitary group. He may pull the plug on your safety team.
As a church safety team member, we are ambassadors for Christ. Our number one obligation is to “Go and make disciples.” Matthew 28:18-20, not be a paramilitary group. We as church safety team members need to be the watchmen on the walls that know everyone in our congregation and when someone new comes in, be a part of the first connection to find out if the person entering your church has come to worship, is hurting and needs help or could be that wolf in sheep’s clothing. From there you take the appropriate action. The video sent to me is full of liability issues and if you implemented one of them. I feel you would get sued. He gives the example that if someone is doing something illegal at your church you have the right to apprehend them till the police get there. Might want to check with your state laws, that might not be allowed.
To finish my rant, what is starting to scare me is the amount of “church security experts” popping up all over the internet and YouTube. Please be careful who you listen to. If the presenter is more concerned on your shooting techniques than the Gospel or expanding the Kingdom of God, I pray you move away from that “expert.” There are some good trainers out there but the last thing you should be focusing on is active shooter. Can it happen, yes. We just saw it in Houston. Do we need to do training on it, yes. But if that is your main training and not on how to spot danger, witness to the hurting, de-escalate those that are angry, I feel you do not have a safety team but a paramilitary unit.
I am not going to name this organization that put out this video on “Congress to Outlaw Church Security Teams,” because you can go out and do your own research and find them. This is not to bash this organization because we have a saying at Trinity Security Allies, “we have no competition, we have God.” Wendy, Jessica, and I have learned to lean on the Lord to make sure we were doing the right thing by taking on this ministry. After going on nine years I would say we are doing God’s work because He has blessed us in this journey. You have heard me before, 1 Peter 5:2-4 is my walk “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.”
Do not create chaos but be examples to the flock and watch your team grow.
Be safe and be blessed.
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
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.