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.
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.