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.