I have a secret that a lot of people don’t know about me. Most people take me as that serious type of guy that is always on the hunt for that person that is lurking in the dark. The one that could hurt my family, my church family and all those around me. Yes, I am that guy, however here is the secret; I am a little boy when it comes to Christmas. I love the season. I love to watch the faces of the little children when we talk about whether they were naughty or nice and did they get to see Santa. I love the lights in the neighborhood. On my morning runs through the neighborhood one of the homes has a Christmas light canopy that covers the sidewalk and I run through it every time I go down that street. I love looking for that perfect gift for my wife and girls. Yes, I am that guy that would love to have a white Christmas and enjoys Christmas carols (while writing this email I am listening to Manheim Steamroller Christmas). I love going to church and hearing the heart felt Merry Christmas wishes from my church family, feeling the warmth of the Spirit when we talk about Christ’s birth and how it is such a special time for the world. Peace and goodwill toward all men. I am reminded of the unofficial ceasefire between the British and German soldiers that took place during World War I. In the trenches on Christmas morning of 1914 carols could be heard between the two enemies and before long soldiers who had been fighting against each other the day before met in no-mans land and traded food, tobacco, cigarettes, drink, badges, buttons and caps. Before long a game of football broke out between enemies that 24 hours earlier had been shooting at each other.
Even though I would love to see the world take a moment and celebrate Christmas I know that we as the watchmen and watchwomen on the wall must be on constant alert for those that would love to make a statement against Christianity during this sacred time. Sutherland Springs has put all churches on alert of the dangers the church faces today in dealing with domestic violence. The more and more we get into this tragedy the more we find this was nothing more than a mentally deranged person with a dangerous grudge against his ex-in-laws. The shooter had sent threating text messages to his ex-mother-in-law who attended First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs. I can’t fathom any other reason the shooter to pick that church other than he wanted to kill her. It just so happens she was not there that Sunday. As the investigation goes on there were so many red flags on this shooter that someone somewhere should have been paying more attention to him. I don’t like being a Monday morning quarterback but we in the church safety business have been screaming from the church’s steeples for years that domestic violence and mentally ill people are one of your biggest threats to our church yet we as a church continue to turn a blind eye to this issue. In Carl Chinn’s studies over 46% of your deadly force incidents against churches are from domestic spillover, personal conflicts, mental illness and religious bias (Carl Chinn).
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) reports that nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner and that equates to more than 10 million women and men. Please read that last sentence again, 10 million women and men. We have had two incidents in our church over the last two years where the women of the relationship were violent against their spouses and children to the point that police were called, and restraining orders were placed against the women. In our scenario training we emphasize this fact. Reports across the United States shows this number increases during the holiday season, yet we continue to think that when couples come into our Christmas service all is right in their world. We pray for Christmas miracles in families going through tough times and that the abuse will stop but fail to realize Christmas puts so much pressure on families and can be a catalyst to an increase in domestic violence.
We, the church need to be that beacon of light that helps those that are hurting and one step away from doing something they will regret for the rest of their lives. Remember, we the Safety Team, are not only looking for the wolves in sheep’s clothing, but we are also looking those in need. Our ministry is to expand the Kingdom of God, and not keep those out that need help. From our training we need to point out those that come up on our radar needing special attention to our ministers. If we, as the ones on the walls of our church, don’t point out the hurting to those that can help we have failed as the watchmen/watchwomen of the church. Ours is not a position of power or war but a position of love and serving those we protect. Remember Christ came to this world to bring peace and goodwill to all men and we must do what we have been called to do and protect those that come into our churches looking for that peace and goodwill.
So, this is my wish to all of you that have been called to this most important ministry. Do not forget what this season is all about. Remember this is the celebration of our Savior’s birth, shout it to the mountain tops, sorry forgot this is Florida, shout it to the beaches that in the little town of Bethlehem our Savior was born to bring the promise of everlasting life to all mankind. He came to bring peace and goodwill to all and we the sheepdog of our churches must keep an eye out for the wolves and those hurting and protect the flock.
Merry Christmas and God bless,
PS: **Save the Date**January 21, 2018 5 pm – 7 pm: Trinity Security Allies 2-year Celebration.
Register at: http://www.trinitysecurityallies.com/events.html
In my last blog, I wrote about the Christians in Egypt canceling Easter and I am sure most of your said to yourself it wouldn’t happen here, oh really. “Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker Cancels His Easter Egg Hunt Due to Manhunt”. What!!! Governor Walker runs the Wisconsin State Police, he can call out the National Guard in a crisis of this proportion, what in blue blazes just happened. If you haven’t been following the news, a lunatic broke into a gun shop, stole a bunch of weapons and sent the President a manifesto talking about attacking the government and maybe some churches. A massive manhunt began and because he had not been arrested the Governor of Wisconsin cancelled their annual Easter Egg hunt. Now let’s think about that for a moment. This madman had threatened the government and churches, the Governor with all his protection cancelled the annual Easter Egg hunt. What do you think some of the Wisconsin churches are thinking? If the Governor can’t protect his own activities what chances does an unprotected church have against these types of lone wolves. We are only talking about one man. Okay let’s not paint me as a raving lunatic. I do understand the need to protect everyone, and in a sense, I don’t blame the Governor for what he did, however do you see the slippery slope that starts? If one crazy can shut down an event like that what do you think it does to church members who start to worry about coming to your churches? I was in DC when the DC sniper started their carnage, I remember how scared people were to go out in public while that was going on. With that said, if a madman was loose in your area what action would your church take? The good end to this story was the lunatic was arrested and everyone in Wisconsin gets to take a deep sigh of relief.
But remember we cannot let our guard down, ever. We are here, our most celebrated Christian event of the year (please Christmas lovers don’t get mad at me because I said Easter), He is Risen!! Let us rejoice of this wonderful time but let us also be diligent in our watch. Listen to what David said in Psalms 144:1-2 NLT “Praise the lord, who is my rock. He trains my hands for war and gives my fingers skill for battle. He is my loving ally and my fortress, my tower of safety, my rescuer. He is my shield, and I take refuge in Him. He makes the nations submit to me.” I pray this weekend none of us must go into battle but understand there is a war on Christianity, the devil is just hoping for a sign of weakness; where people are afraid to come out and worship. Look what almost happened in Wisconsin.
Be safe and alert and let us all celebrate the end of death and the gift of forgiveness, grace and everlasting life,
He is Risen!!!!!!!
What if you were to open your local newspaper and the headline read “Churches in the Tampa Bay Area will not celebrate Easter after ISIS attacks”? What would your first reaction be? I know mine would be one of disbelief; one of anger because someone had scared churches so much that they wouldn’t open the doors on the second most holy day of Christianity. I know that I would be calling friends together and celebrating Easter no matter what the paper said. I hope there would others that would join as we show the world that no one cancels our worship of Easter. We will celebrate Easter till Christ comes back to take us home. You’re thinking - this couldn’t happen. Really? Are you following world events? I just saw the headlines across the Internet “Churches in southern Egypt will not celebrate Easter after ISIS attacks”. It has happened; churches in southern Egypt are closing on one of the churches most attended day of the year except Christmas. Your response might be - but it can’t happen here. I hope it never does, however it almost did. Ask Andy Willis of Bellevue Baptist Church about Easter 2016 “Man brings handgun, assault rifle into church”. If were not for Andy and the training he has done with his church we would still be talking about the lone wolf that went into their church and did the unthinkable. Other lone wolves would only continue the cause for their 15 minutes of fame that the world would read about over and over again. Charleston is still reeling from their church shooting and that was back in June of 2015. We would be able to move on but the scars are permanent.
Over the recent months in our own church we have had multiple anomalies that have caused us concern; a person with a large backpack that seemed to be surveying the church and when one of our small group leaders went to talk to him, he did a proxemic push on him and refused to have a conversation with him (and for those of you that don’t know what a proxemic push is, invite me to your church for our “Threat Profiling” training). We are going to attach his picture to this email in the event someone knows him. Then over the past several months we have had a female come into our church, get very close to the pastor only to be combative with one of our female church leaders. She has changed her appearance on us and now is waiting till our part-time deputies leave the church property before she comes into the church. She moves to the seat behind the pastor in the worship center. After service starts, she starts to sob, looking for someone to come over to her. Her statements to the volunteers are vague and confusing and this last weekend she didn’t want to leave church until we ushered her out. She was later caught taking pictures of the church. I will attach her picture to this email in the event one of you has had dealing with her and knows her name.
Over the last few months we have been doing some new training that we want to get out to everybody. The training comes from the Marine Corps “Profiling and Tactical Tracking” using “Combat Profiling”. We have successfully done it over the past few months and it is a powerful tool. If you've missed this training, contact us, invite your community churches and we'll bring this training to you.
He paid the price for our sins and now we have been guaranteed a life with Him that we can’t even begin to imagine. Do not miss the opportunity to rejoice and celebrate His wonderful gift but be on alert, cause 14. After I looked things over, I stood up and said to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people, “Don’t be afraid of them. Remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons and your daughters, your wives and your homes.” 15. When our enemies heard that we were aware of their plot and that God had frustrated it, we all returned to the wall, each to their own work. Nehemiah 4:14-15 We cannot take the risk of letting something like what happened in Egypt happen in our churches so we must be diligent during this Easter Season and on watch at all times.
He has Risen!!!!!!!!!!
Today I received a phone call from a church I work with to advise me that they are letting one of their staff members go. They asked if I had any suggestions. My first question - are you afraid of him? The response - they are concerned about him. This person is a firearms owner and talks about survival and has shown some anger issues in the past. And the list kept going. Okay you are concerned, however is there a threat? If there is a threat have someone there with you when you let him go. Be ready to call local law enforcement and if possible have one of your safety team members standing by for additional support. Make sure this safety member is there because they have a calmer head and not there as a show of force. After the phone call I had a moment to reflect on what just happened. My question to you is - are you prepared when you must let someone go from your church?
While working with the Norfolk Police Department I spent 12 years in support mainly working with computers. I was known around the Tidewater area for my computer expertise. During my last year with Norfolk I was courted by a private software company that developed public safety software. They were putting out a new product that would tie police computers together and police departments around the country would be able to share data. They were looking for a spokesperson for their new software and I fit the bill. They took Wendy and I out - wined and dined us and offered more money than I was making with the police department. I retired from NPD sold my house, bought a new one up in the DC area and took Wendy who was expecting our first daughter and moved. Three months into the new job I realized I had made a mistake.
The CEO of the company was (I am going to be nice here) a salesman who would do anything for the sale. Me, I was still a brother-in-arms to all police officers. When the CEO would ask me to do things that I thought were unethical I would voice my opinion and then be taken to the woodshed by the CEO and explained that this was the real world now and I needed to get with the program.
After 10 months, the CEO called me into the office and let me go. Here I was with a wife and 3-month-old daughter living in an area I really couldn’t afford and I was bitter. I am not going to say what I wanted to do in this post but if we have coffee some time I will let you in on some of my thoughts during those dark days. The thing I want to point out here is that the moment I was let go from that company I was cut off from that company - my logon to my computer was cancelled - my key to the backdoor was taken and I was never to put foot into that office again. My last paycheck was mailed to my home address and if I forgot something I could call them and they would have someone drop it off at my house. If they did see me on property they would have had me arrested for trespassing.
Now let’s talk about today and my phone call. What if the person you are letting go is also embedded in your church? What if the entire family goes to your church? What if their kids love your children’s ministry or the wife volunteers in an important role with the church? What do you do and what does that do to your church family? Don’t get me wrong, once this church told me the circumstances of the person they were letting go - I understood and know any church would have done the same. What if he and his family have been the faithful attendees to your church for the past several years? What do you do now?
You just terminated a staff member. Do you ask them not to come back into your church if they love the church? I remember the first day of being let go - I was in shock, I had not seen it coming. As it slowly sunk in the madder I got. The more time away from the office the worst it got and every time I got turned down for a new job the more I hated the CEO who had let me go. With a new baby and a house, I couldn't afford. I was angry - it was not a pretty picture.
So how do we handle a situation like this where the church doesn’t want to add insult to injury and tell that person that he and his family - that love your church, children’s ministry and that he can’t come back? The family – his wife that volunteers faithfully can still attend – but he can’t. Walk down that road for a minute and think about everything that is involved in that decision.
Now that I have your head spinning let me put it back into perspective. A lot of us don’t want to say this however running a church is like running a business. If you have an issue within a church, you deal with it the same as you do in any business. You cannot let someone or something that is disrupting your church continue; you must remove the problem. If you feel it is okay to allow that person and his family to continue to come to the church to worship, then do so. You need to advise your safety team of the situation and they need to be around that person whenever he is on campus; keeping an eye on his whereabouts. The bad thing about this is that person will probably know who is on your safety team.
If that person decides to come back to church, go over the way he is expected to act while on the church campus. There should be boundaries in place on where he can and cannot go. If at one time this person had the freedom to move anywhere in the buildings, that needs to stop. Certain areas are to be designated off-limits. You should also advise him that if he becomes disruptive while on campus then he will be trespassed and arrested if he violates that warning. It is not a pleasant thought but the safety of the campus is your responsibility and you cannot let the firing of one person put the innocent in harm’s way.
In the situation at the church earlier this week, the person that was let go lives around 25 minutes away and has no real ties to that church other than working for them. I was advised they took care of him so he could have time to look for a job and not have to worry about Christmas. To most of those involved they all knew that this was going to happen so it didn’t come as a surprise. It is still sad but I will say it again, you must run your church like a business at times, as unpleasant as it seems when these things happen.
Now going back and finishing my story. I hope and pray that one day I might run into (not physically) that CEO again. I am going to walk right up to him and tell him that him letting me go was one of the best things that could have happened to me. I want to tell him that God had this wonderful plan for me and that staying in DC was not going to fulfill that mission. It took this CEO firing me to motivate me to move where I am today. I didn’t see it at the time but I really see it now. Get up with me someday and I will tell you how.
You get a phone call from you Pastor, “Jim, we are going to have to suspend our church services due to a terrorist bomb threat”. Crazy you say? UCANews out of Asia reported that the “Philippine bishops vow to put public safety first after foiled plot targeting the US embassy. Masses and other liturgical services in the Philippine capital Manila would be suspended if there is an imminent threat to people’s safety, a Philippine bishops’ conference official said Nov. 29”.
But Jim, that is way over across the water, nothing like that would ever happen here in the United States. Really? It almost did in Memphis last Easter Sunday. In October we saw an extreme Islamic suspect, again in Tennessee, driving around shooting up churches in the Bedford County area. The suspect had shot at least three separate churches in the region only to be caught later by the police in the area of one of the shootings. This suspect stated on his Facebook page “I’m just doing my job as a messenger for my Lord, I owe absolutely everything to Allah because he has set me free from my spiritual cage.”
And if extreme Islamic terrorism is not enough to get your attention, how about the mentally ill, domestic violence or just plain evil. Just this last week a “Florida man was arrested for making Pulse-style massacre threats against church that welcomes ‘sick homosexuals’”. The scary part about this suspect is that he attended the church he threatened to shoot up. This church gave him food and took him to the hospital when he got sick. He even marched with this church in a gay pride parade. Once again, this subject made threats on his Facebook page (noticing a pattern here)? “The Miami Beach Community Church is filled with a bunch of sick homosexuals. Orlando will look small to what is coming to Miami Beach”. He even went on to say that he had found a person that was going to sell him an assault rifle. Now here is the part of the article that I find interesting and I bring it up all the time, when do we say “enough is enough”? This is not the first time they had an issue with this subject. Last year he created a disturbance in the church; as the police were taking him out of the church he threatened the minister, his family and a church staff member. Why was that person allowed back in the church? Understand, I would like to believe everyone we encounter gets saved and is promised the opportunity to go to the Promise Land. I wish I could believe all will go there but even the Bible tells us that is not the case. When are we as a church going to understand this and stop trying to save those that will not listen and those that do not see? We are in changing times brother and sisters and it only takes one incident to bring your church to its knees.
And if this isn’t enough to bring your church leaders together and talk about the safety of your church, I will say this one more time, we are under attack. Churches across the United States are seeing more and more vandalisms against their buildings. Whatever your stance is on same sex marriages, abortion and even your political views, you are a target. One church in Evansville, IN found it members being intimidated by graffiti and threats made to those that attend. This church feeds the needy which requires a multitude of volunteers. What happens if your church members and volunteers don’t feel safe anymore? Will you get that phone call from your church leader saying “we won’t be having church services this weekend because the volunteers and staff are afraid to come to church”?
This last month I was contacted by one of my favorite minister from another church. He told me that recently at a Sunday service they had a situation where a domestic issued happened during their church service. A young woman who had a child with her ex-boyfriend was now afraid of him and didn’t want to be around him. This young man showed up at church and started a scene and was escorted off the property. This minister called me and asked me what they should do and I advised of how they should handle the situation. They were afraid; they were afraid that he might come back with a gun. They have talked to me on several occasions about church safety. At times, I feel like some of the church leaders just don’t get it. My friend does. I could tell he was physically upset over this incident because he no protection during this scary time. What does it take a boyfriend that waits for his ex-girlfriend in the parking lot and then he hurts or even worse kills her? What does it take to get serious about protecting the flock? Are your leader of your church listening, or will I turn on the TV one day and see your church on Fox News? It is not a matter of if it is going to happen it is only a matter of when.
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.