Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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.” Mathew 28:18-20
Saturday, October 16, 2021, we held our 5th Annual Church Safety & Liability Conference. Every year we are blessed with the most outstanding speakers from around the country, and this year was no exception. It was our largest attended conference ever. Thanks to all those that spoke and those that participated in attending the conference.
The reviews are in, and even though most were positive, we know we can do better. I was taken aback by two of the negative thoughts expressed to me during the conference. They commented that most of those attending was over the age of 55. In our church, you would be considered a part of our Prime-Time ministry. I started to ponder as to why this was. Why do we have an older population of safety team members, and who will replace us that are heading into our Prime-Time years. Thinking this through, it dawned on me that we, as the older generation need to start thinking about church safety differently.
One of the things I write about in my policy and procedures is that this position is not a position of power but a position of serving others. I recently attended some training and was surprised at how quickly Team Members resorted to physical reaction instead of verbal de-escalation. It wasn’t that the situation didn’t require some use of force. While you played out the problem, it was apparent it was more reactive instead of proactive. The scenario they played out emphasized the need for more “What If” and “Verbal De-escalation” training. I see it all the time, guys walking around acting like they are security guards at a concert or the ones that have a full-time job as an accountant, but for a couple of hours a week, they are wannabee police officers. Safety Team Leaders, if you know of someone like this in your group, you need to pull them aside and advise them. They are neither one. We need to refocus on who we are and what our assignment acutely is.
In Matthew 28:18-20, Christ gives us the Great Commission, “Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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.” (NIV). Isn’t this the first job of all Safety Team Members the expansion of the Kingdom of God? So, are we doing that, or are we telling ourselves this is someone else’s job? We, as the Safety Team, are here to protect the flock. As Doctor Mark Jones said at our conference, “This is God’s commandment, not a suggestion.” Doctor Jones went on to say, “Our assignment is all about the glory of God.”
This assignment does not mean we all become preachers and forget about the safety of the church. Doctor Jones also went on to say, “Where there is an assignment, there will always be a threat.” Rest assured your job as a Safety Team Member is safe. There are a lot of threats in this fallen world. But how do we connect to the next generation of Safety Team Members? I will answer the question with a question.
Safety Team Leaders, are you a leader, or are you a mentor? Do you pass out assignments and send your Team on their way or meet and pray over the Team and the church before services? Do you talk to your Team Members about the importance of our assignment of glorifying Christ, or do you talk about what caliber of weapon they carry? I understand that some of you will feel they are both critical questions, but one is for eternity, and the other isn’t. Team Leaders are you making disciples out of your Team Members? If not, then you are not following God’s commandment.
So how do we get the next generation into the Safety Team? Let’s look at three simple steps.
First, we must understand that our assignment is to glorify and expand the Kingdom of God. Matthew 28:18-20 explains it all. Without understanding the importance of this assignment, we are lost sheep ourselves. How can we protect the flock unless we know what the assignment is? Remember, “Where there is an assignment, there will always be a threat.”
The second step is found in Mark 12:30-31 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” There is no way to show the Good News unless we love everyone that walks through our church’s doors. That doesn’t mean we let our guard down. We must always be prepared but never assume.
Finally, when Nehemiah saw the danger that was approaching those who were building the wall, he stationed them by families, “Therefore I stationed some of the people behind the lowest points of the wall at the exposed places, posting them by families, with their swords, spears and bows.” Nehemiah 4:13. Every person who joins your church is family, and we, as Safety Team Members, must make them feel that way. It is our responsibility to know as many church members as possible and become family with all of them. I know that this sounds like a difficult task, but you have God on your side, and nothing is impossible through Him.
So, if we can follow these three simple steps, you will have members of the church lining up to be a part of the Safety Team because they will see the importance of serving and protecting the flock. “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven,” Matthew 5:16.
Every parent will become eyes for the Team to help protect the children. Every greeter will start to watch for possible concerns that walk into the building. The ushers will now begin to see those hurting and serve them better, helping the kingdom grow. Because we have become mentors instead of security in the congregation, younger members of your church will be wanting to join the Safety Ministry because you understand the assignment of expanding the kingdom of God, and in all assignments, there will be threats. Thank you, Doctor Mark Jones.
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.