When you ask a man what the biggest obstacle of giving their lives to Christ, most respond with the fear of surrendering. I have found that most men just hate the word surrender. A wise ex-military friend told me that you never say “Surrender to God” to men. Instead, you say, “Submit to a Higher Authority.” Military personnel will tell you to surrender is not in their vocabulary. They fight until all resources are exhausted, and it is the enemy’s decision to what happens next. I found his statement interesting, causing me to ponder my decision to use the phrase surrender instead of submitting. I felt they were the same.
So turning to the Bible, I did a word search for “surrender.” Using the King James Version, I didn’t find the word surrender one time. When I looked at the New King James Version, I found “surrender” eight times in the Old Testament and nowhere in the New Testament. Comparing verses in both versions of the Bible, I discovered that the word surrender or words equal to surrender like “let us fall unto the host” were used in reference to surrendering to someone that was going to either kill you or make you a slave. I am starting to see why my friends and brother don’t like the word surrender.
When I did an Internet search on submit in the Bible, I found a paper written by John W. Ritenbaugh. In his document “What the Bible says about Submit,” he states that in the King James Version, the word submit is listed twelve times, submitted, three times and submitting only once. But he goes on to say that “In Greek, the word is hupotasso, which means “to arrange in order under.” It is actually a military term, and in the military, this is a strong sense of submitting to someone of higher rank.”
I turned to the Merriam-Webster dictionary to look at the definitions of surrender and submit. I found that surrender means “to yield to the power, control, or possession of another upon compulsion or demand,” and the word submit means “to yield to governance or authority.” I am starting to see a difference here. I can understand while a military person would cringe at the statement “surrender to God.” Look, I am no Bible scholar, but I like to think I understand the Word. I have never seen a passage where God looks at man and demands that he loves Him.
If that was the case, what happened to free will? God calls us to have a relationship with Him by submitting to His will, which as my friend said, “submitting to a higher authority.”
In fact, the more I look at this, I feel that using the word surrender to Christ is almost an injustice to our relationship with Christ. Hear me out before you delete the page. We are given a choice. Where does our relationship with Christ fit into surrender? Christ wants us to submit. But He also wants us to be who He designed and bring our talents and treasures to Him so that He can use them to expand the Kingdom of God. Just as the military person changes from being a person of one to a person who belongs to a larger body. As Christians, we are part of God’s larger plan. God wants us to talk to Him with confidence and joy. These things are not in the word surrender. Surrender means to be a prisoner, and we are not prisoners; we are children of God.
Military personnel submit to a higher authority to receive commands. When we submit to a higher authority, our boss, or our customers, we usually trust what that person brings to the table. Still, this authority is not perfect in any way. Sometimes they make mistakes in their decisions. Yet when we submit to the higher authority of God, He never gives us a command that is not a part of His perfect plan. God does not make mistakes, sometimes we might not understand the design, but we know that there is always a reason for His plans through our faith. Jesus tells us about submitting to Him in Matthew 11:29-30, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” This does not sound like someone who is demanding. This sounds like one who is loving and wanting us to submit to Him for rest for our souls.
God wants a relationship with us. “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7. He wants us to boldly approach Him with respect, humility and not graveling and scared of Him. Remember He sent His only Son to die for us. We must not hide anything from Him. First, He knows all, and second, if you can’t trust your loving Father, who do you turn to? Human authorities are just as flawed as you and I. God wants us to feel secure around Him because when we feel safe, we will reveal our deepest thoughts with Him. He promises to help us through all things.
So what does all of this have to do with church safety? All safety team members must submit to our Lord to follow His perfect plan for us. We are Ambassadors for Christ. Being a safety team member is not a position of power. It is a position of serving. With God leading the charge, He opens our eyes to what we need to see and protects us from the schemes of the devil.
I will leave you with part of a speech from former Prime Minister Winston Churchill delivered to the House of Commons on June 4th, 1940. “We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender…….” During the time of this speech, Nazi Germany was demanding that England surrender to them or they would destroy England. We know that Satan is alive and using all his power to destroy this country.
He would love to destroy the churches we attend. Still, we must submit and put on the whole armor of God and fight against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Thanks Marcel, for helping me see the light.
Praying for the Good Guys
When I was assigned the detective position for the Belleair Police Department (BPD), I went to a regional burglary meeting. I met Largo Police Department Detective Brenden Arlington. You need to understand that police officers and detectives from different agencies sometimes aren’t the most open and friendly people, not till they get to know you. The first time, most don’t share a lot of their investigative information. They first want to check you out and make sure you were one of them. I have found this a common practice with agencies around the country.
This wasn’t Brendan’s way of operation. He immediately invited me into his inner circle and shared everything with me. Being that we were neighboring jurisdictions, he understood the importance of being on the same team. Every time I had something on the Largo, Belleair border, I would call Brendan. We worked so many cases together I felt like he was my partner. While sitting in his little work cubicle, I would talk with him about cases and suspects. I would look at the happy pictures he had on the walls of his family. I remember the day he got transferred out of burglary and went to Robbery/Homicide. Brendan appeared to be the guy that had it all.
But as in so many of these situations, we find out later that the ones that seem to have it most together are those that are battling the biggest demons. This appears to have been true in Brendan’s case. While reaching out to him about something we had going on in our church last month, I found out that he had committed suicide.
I was rocked to my core.
My family will tell you I don’t have a heart because I don’t cry at sappy movies. That night after finding out about Brendan’s death, I went into my closet and cried. I cried for his family and for his friends. Not that there would have been a different outcome if I had reached out to him sooner, but I cried because I had not talked to my friend one more time. Over the next couple of days, I got information from two of the detectives that were close to Brendan. Talking with them, I got the same “didn’t see it coming” conversation that I have heard from other friends and family members of suicide victims. The last time they saw him, he was upbeat and positive, only to later receive the shocking news that he had taken his life. Friends always feel like they might have done more, but unfortunately, most of those that had decided to take their own lives are on a mission until it is over, and that seems to be what happened to Brendan.
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH), Police Officers rate number three out of ten in occupations with the highest suicide rate. They list all sorts of reasons, depression, stress, and unable to get adequate sleep. Add to that the type of people that officers constantly deal with every day. These are not the nice people in the world. They are the ones that live in a culture that most don’t want to understand, live in, or deal with. Let law enforcement do that. When you add all the reasons, then throw in divorce, and substance abuse, it feels like the world is against you. I really don’t understand why most law enforcement officers (LEO) would do this occupation. I can add one more thing to this equation, without Christ in their life, I don’t see how they can do this job at all.
I said this once before, but we as the church need to step up our game and really start to adopt LEO. The next time you see an LEO, you need to tell them how much you appreciate them and then invite them to your church. If you are brave enough, tell them you will pray for them and is there anything specific they would like you to pray for. I asked four police officers what I could pray for them, and three of them said, “that I make it home tonight.” Let that one sink in. Do you pray that every time you are leaving or going to work? They do, their wives do, and now we need to.
It is a dark world out there that most people will never see or have to deal with, yet LEOs deal with it every day. They are the thin blue line that protects you and your family from total chaos. The world we live in is not getting any better, and officers on the street need to know that we support them. The other day, I heard a person say that we need to remember they are one of God’s children when a person gets arrested. I responded to that person with, “are you saying the police are not God’s children?”
They are also God’s children, and they desperately need our prayers and our fellowship. We need to be that beacon of light for the officers and their families. We need to make sure that we support them and have their backs when walking through this world. If we don’t support them, who will? In the world of sinners and saints, we need to make sure our doors are open for both. As they say, “if you think you found the perfect church, don’t go in because it won’t be perfect anymore.”
I remember talking to Brendan about God. He said he was a believer, yet I never got too personal about his salvation. Maybe I should have. In those last moments, I pray that God wrapped His arms around Brendan while he was in his pain where he felt all alone, and there were no answers, and he decided to take his own life. “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38-39 NIV. I pray that God gave Brendan peace and called him home.
I pray that one day I get to talk to my friend again.
A black friend of mine contacted me and told me that his company provided diversity training and asked me my opinion. Wikipedia says, “Diversity training is any program designed to facilitate positive intergroup interaction, reduce prejudice and discrimination, and generally teach individuals who are different from others how to work together effectively.” As police officers, we had in-service training every two years to keep our certifications. There was always one class on diversity. Most of the time, the class was taught by a person who worked in the lower-income areas. They would explain that we just needed to treat people who lived in these areas with respect and dignity when we came across a person different from us. Most of the time, the person that taught the class didn’t appear to like police officers or sometimes treated us as racist, which made the lessons always interesting, to say the least. So, when you say diversity training, I feel two issues that should be addressed.
The first issue is how we should treat people. Don’t come to me with what society is saying. Let’s use what Christ says we should do. In Matthew 22, starting in verse 35, an Old Testament law expert tested Christ with a question. “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Okay, we can follow that, but Christ continues, “And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself” “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”” You might tell me, hey, this is easy, I can love my next-door neighbor who lives in a home like mine, has basically my same political views, and talks the way I talk, but Christ takes it a step further.
In Luke 10:25-37, we see the Parable of The Good Samaritan. Jesus tells the story of a certain man being jumped, beat up, and robbed, and the only one that would stop was a Good Samaritan. Understand Samaritans were considered by some in those days as a person most good Jews would avoid. Only the Good Samaritan stopped and helped the person in need. Christ is telling us here that it does not matter your skin color, ethnicity, social background, or even sexual preference. We are supposed to help and love everyone no matter what. Is that easy? This is what we have been commanded to do by our Lord and Savior. So, I go back to what the Bible teaches, using it as my reference manual, not some teachings from someone that wants to tell me I am racist because of my skin color.
To cover the second issue, let’s get back to my friend asking me how I would handle diversity training. This is what I told him. If I decide, I want to have a Bible on my desk, and I get a notice from human resources (HR) that somebody finds my Bible offensive. We have a concern. If I decide during Christmas time, I want to have a miniature Nativity scene on my desk. I get another notice from HR that I have offended someone. We have a significant problem. You see, diversity “is any program designed to facilitate positive intergroup interaction, reduce prejudice and discrimination, and generally teach individuals who are different from others how to work together effectively.” I am all for that, but we don't have diversity if you step on my religion. We have mob rules or society rules.
I can work with anyone. I have to put in this caveat. I can work with anyone as long as this person is not breaking the law, being immoral or unethical. If a male co-worker decides that he wants to be a she and comes to work in a dress, I will respect that person and work with that person as long as that person respects me. But if I find out that person has gone to HR and told them that my Bible on my desk offends them, we do not have diversity. If that person comes to me and says that he and a few other employees are going to march in a gay pride parade, and I tell him I am not going to participate. If I get a letter from HR telling me that I am offending someone by not participating, we don’t have diversity.
Whoa Jim, what happened to Matthew 22:39, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” I told you there were two issues here. You see diversity is a two-edged sword; it cuts both ways. We, as Christians, must take a stand for Christ. All the other groups are taking a stand for their beliefs. So why should we be any different? I am not promoting that you throw a fit and cause a scene in your office, but I would ask to speak to HR about the complaints and then go to God and ask Him what I should do next. This is a tricky question; but how deep is your belief in Christ? Let’s go back to the Gospel. Christ following God our Father’s will went to the cross for us. Most of the disciples met with horrible deaths because of their strong beliefs. We have another problem if you took your Bible off your desk because of a complaint and didn’t stand up for your beliefs.
I was fired from a job because of my work ethic, not my religious beliefs. The company’s CEO was immoral, unethical and if I looked closely, he was probably breaking the law. I told him I couldn’t lie to clients, and he said to me that don’t lie, just don’t tell them the truth. When I wouldn’t comply with his unethical way of doing business, he fired me. Wendy and I had just had Jessica, and here I was without a job, living in a house I couldn’t afford and no income coming in. I was ticked, to say the least. I wanted to do so many bad things against that CEO, another story for another time. Still, when I look back at what happened, God had a plan for me, and because I didn’t conform to a corrupt business environment, I am where I am today in a much better place.
God has a plan for you, but you must stand in His shadows and trust in Him. If the company you work for preaches diversity yet will not let you put a Bible on your desk, God has a better place for you. We just have to trust Him. I wasn’t following Him when I got fired, but He had a plan for me, and I am so blessed because of what happened to me. In fact, if I could find or see that CEO, I would thank him for firing me. God has a plan for you. All you have to do is ask for it. He will find you a different company, a different place if you follow His plan for you. He may also have you at this company to be His messenger. You may not see it at first, but I promise He is there with a plan, and we have to persevere during these “diverse” times.
James says it best “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12. What a blessed promise to stand up for Christ.
A House Divided
A black Christian brother of mine contacted me and was concerned and upset over recent statements by members of a men’s Bible study I facilitate. He was devastated to learn that a large majority of the members were conservative. He rebuked me for allowing this to happen in the group and felt that I should put an end to it. His opinion was that the Republican candidate was racist and that a Christian could not in good faith vote for a person like that. The more I tried to reason with my brother, the angrier and angrier he got, so I explained to him if he wanted to have a conversation, my door is always open, but I wasn’t going to go back and forth with him on different political views. I love good debates but refuse to go to the level we have recently seen around our country and in the secular press, where because of race relations, we are now more divided than I have ever seen in my lifetime.
After our conversation, I sat at my desk trying to find a way to build a bridge between my liberal brother and me, and the more I thought about it, the angrier I got. What happened to the days when you could vote for whomever you wanted to and not have to worry about whether or not you were going to offend someone. As I dwelled on this subject I realized we, the church are partly responsible for this great divide. You cannot look at the television, social media, or any other way you get your news without having to pick a political side. It is no longer Democratic versus Republican, it has no come down to us against them, or that is how a lot of people want you to look at it. I feel we, the Christian church need to find a way to bridge this gap before we hit the point of no return. I am terrified that we may have already gone too far.
First, let’s set some ground rules. Unless you can show me your stance in the Bible, then the argument goes nowhere. I don’t want to be legalistic, but I feel the church has let things slide for so long that the only truth I have left to lean on is from the Bible, not some study on race or sex that is based on someone’s social opinion that calls themselves an expert. We, as Christians, must take a stand or watch the devil win because he is creating a lot of chaos in the church.
After my conversation with my liberal brother, I needed to make sure my heart was in the right place. So I decided to go to council, not with my Christian brothers but with my Heavenly Father. While sitting at my desk asking Him the question, I felt His quiet voice whisper to me. I turned to 1 Samuel 16, where God sent Samuel to Bethlehem to anoint Israel’s new king. Samuel gets there and calls out Jesse to bring his sons to celebrate a sacrifice to the Lord. As Jesse’s sons start to appear, Samuel is for sure Jesse’s firstborn, Eliab, was the anointed one. Yet God in verse 7 spoke to Samuel “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”” This is how we as Christians need to start looking at people, not looking at the outward appearance but their hearts. This is when the Church will begin to heal and not before then.
During this time of meditation, I also heard Him tell me that all I need to do is be right with Him, no one else. As long as I pleased my Father, He would help me deal with what my brother was going through. We, as the church, need to get back to listening and being right with God. Instead, a lot of churches today are doing what Paul warned us about in 2 Timothy, “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” 2 Timothy 4:3 NIV. I see all across this country that churches and religious organizations teach their congregation with itching ears exactly what their member want to hear instead of the actual teaching from the Bible.
I watched churches and religious organizations join the cancel culture and try to shut down pastors that have done incredible work in not only their community but around the world because they prayed for our last President. Even if you disagree with the President, did we forget what Paul said in Romans 13:1 “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” I may disagree with the current President, but I will not talk about how some church leaders have spoken about our past President. God did not get up on November 4th and tell the angels that He didn’t see the present President’s win coming.
I also watched churches and religious organizations push the race issue, and this is not only all-black churches. The Southern Baptist Convention try to pass a resolution that would promote Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality as a tool for churches to use. If you don’t know how dangerous these two theories are, go back and read my blog, “Critical race theory & Intersectionality vs. the Grace of God.” I can’t find any Biblical teaching in either one of these theories. I am more than happy to talk to someone that can point me to the scripture where it says one race is better than another race. But in my Bible, it says God created mankind in His own image, Genesis 1:27.
Then we have the issues of the government wanting to pass the Equality Act. Once again, you need to go out and read what this is about. This will be a battle churches will have to fight in court. It requires you to do things that are against everything you teach in your church about moral and social issues. Those churches that do not see this as a problem I feel sorry for. I have been watching a church in St. Petersburg, FL, fall apart because the pastor has decided upon himself to teach the congregation with itching ears exactly what their member want to hear instead of the actual teaching from the Bible. This has torn that church apart, pit brothers and sisters against each other, and this is a time we need to be unifying and not dividing. Dark clouds are around the corner for churches across this great country.
But let me end on two positive notes. First, as God would have it, my liberal brother called me ten minutes after my time with Him. I explained that I didn’t vote for the past President because of who he was. I voted for him because he based his election on one of my most critical moral choices. You see, the past President was pro-life. If you tell me you are pro-choice, you lose me right off the start. I cannot find how many abortions the United States performed in 2020. The numbers are not out there, but a Western Journal article’s headline said it all “It Would Take COVID 23 Years to Kill as Many People as Abortion Killed in 2020 Alone”. No wonder God is not happy with us, and this new administration is very much pro-choice, so right off the bat, you lose me. Many other policies this administration is pushing are so far from Biblical teaching that we as Christians need to start praying for our country and our leaders. Read Judges; every time a judge went against God, their future was not bright. God promises us in 2 Chronicles 7:14, “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” We are all God’s people. Let us call out to him and humble ourselves so we can heal our land.
The second bright spot I want to talk about, everywhere in history; when the church was persecuted it grew. Throughout time there have been world leaders who tried to stomp out religion but in over 2000 years of prosecution the church is still here. If you do not understand, the Church is the Bride of Christ. If we truly believe, then Christ Himself will protect His Bride, He will not let it die, and we have a way of flourishing when things go sideways. Don’t believe me, look what happened during COVID19. Some states tried to shut down the church, and it grew. We learned how to use technology, and now in the comfort of your own home, you can get fed every day of the week from a different pastor.
Satan is alive and well in the country and knows what will divide us, racism. We have to stand together to combat this, or the church will go through some challenging times. If you go to a church and hear them using terms like systemic racism or reparations in their teaching, you need to run away. God sees us all as all equal. Paul states it quite clearly in Galatians 3: 26 – 28 “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus”.
So when my liberal brother called me back and asked if we could talk. I explained to him what I based my voting on, not the man but his beliefs. If the candidate is pro-life, pro-church, pro-law enforcement, and pro-Israel, just to list a few, then he gets my vote. All the things I listed are based on Biblical teachings. My brother agreed, so you see, we can start bridging the gap if we together stand on God’s Word. It is the Rock I built my house on, and nothing can tear it down.
Paul once again in 2 Timothy warns us that “there will be terrible times in the last days,” 2 Timothy 3:1. Later in 2 Timothy 3, Paul tells us how it will be. “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:12 – 17 NIV.
I really don’t know the last days before Christ comes back, I don’t know, and really I don’t worry about it. I find it comforting knowing that Christ will come back one day to take us to a better place. Turn off your television, close down your social media and start getting back into the Word and hear what God has to say. There are a lot of excellent promises in the Word that we need to hang on to. We also need to realize that we are all one in the sight of God and live by that principle. When we start to do that, we will once again be a unified nation.
As most of you know, I am a student of anything church safety related. I review almost all articles that come across my email or the web related to the protection of a house of worship. Some of it is good, and at times I try to figure out what was the motive of the writer. Is the writer trying to expand the Kingdom of God or wanting to push the church into something they are not. Many of the church safety experts have never been a police officer, might have some military experience, but most that I have talked with have never seen action or to the layperson were in combat. Time after time again, I see these church safety experts trying to make church safety/security (safety) teams something they are not, which is only going to get someone killed or seriously injured because of poor or improper training.
Case in point. An article came through my email called “Drawing the Line on Danger”. This was an article from 2009 that resurfaced from an organization called Church Law & Tax. I don’t know much about the organization or the writers. It appeared that the writer of this article gathered his information from several professionals in the security environment. I could not find much information on the professionals that had contributed to this article. One of the contributors was listed as the founder of Church Security Services but searching the internet, I couldn’t find anything about them. Don’t get me wrong; the article is worth a read except for a couple of things that could someday get a church into some serious trouble.
The constant theme in this article is how you, as a safety team member, should handle incidents that could be a possible danger to your church. Never in this article did it say, “Once your Spidey-sense kicks in, you should be on the phone calling your local law enforcement.” In fact, the only time it talked about calling the police was if the situation arose that you had to ask a person to leave. The article states, "Explain exactly what the regulations and the rules are and what they have to do." If they ask why they have to leave, never say, 'because I told you so.' That starts a confrontation. Just tell them they have to leave, or the police will be called." Here is where I have a problem, don’t ever tell anyone “the police will be called.” The statement should always be “the police have been called.”
As soon as you sense any danger, the police should already be on their way. If you have a disruptive person in your congregation, before you even start to talk to them, someone on the team needs to be calling law enforcement. We have the luxury in our church of having a dispatch position. That is a position where the safety team member sits in a room with a hardline telephone that if 911 is called, dispatch knows our address without the team member having to give that information. If you do not have a dispatch, designate a person to be the one that calls law enforcement as soon as something starts to happen. We must remember that most church safety team members are volunteers and are not a police officer. If we do not start thinking this way, I feel in the near future, a church will get sued over the actions of their safety team for not calling law enforcement when things started going sideways.
Your church gets training from some organization that teaches the things in “Drawing the Line on Danger.” They teach you about a person wearing a long coat on a hot day or a person with a large bag with his hand inside the bag needs to be approached. These are easy but let us do our own scenario. A person comes into your church and wants to talk to one of your pastors. He tells the pastor he is angry at the church because nine years ago, the church asked him to leave due to anger issues. He tells the pastor he is better now but is still upset with the church because he was told to leave during a bad time in his life. He wants to come back to the church and hopes that the church will welcome him back in open arms. So what do all pastors do? He tells him, of course, he is welcomed back (we all know how pastors are), but your sixth sense is firing on all cylinders. You talk to the pastor, and he tells you to watch the person but, we are a church that believes in redemption, so let us give the person another chance.
All through the service, you are watching the subject; he can’t sit still, has gone to the bathroom several times, and sweating profusely as the training said. While the service is going on and your team has him under surveillance, you run the person through the internet (we talked about it in the webinar, “Free Online Resources”). You find out he has recently been arrested several times for aggravated battery. You pray that nothing happens, but you know this person can be violent because of his past. Remember, your pastor wants to give him a chance. Toward the end of the service, the subject stands up, pulls a weapon, and shoots at the pastor and any other person near him. Your safety team member, which you put near him, grabs the suspect and gets his gun away from him. Assistance arrives and arrests the suspect. As the dust settles and people are treated, fortunately, no one was killed and only a few minor injuries. In our minds, because of our awareness of the situation, this was a good day.
Then the calls start coming in of people that want to sue the church. You ask why? Some attorneys tell you that the injured people feel that you did not do enough to protect them. If you end up in a trial and the attorney looks at you and asks you about the event and why you didn’t contact local law enforcement when you realized the person might be a possible threat. He continues with, “You have been trained in church security, correct? And what did that training tell you”? This article continues to talk about how you must confront the threat, not contact local law enforcement as soon as you think this person is a threat. You, as the safety team member, who has never responded to a "man with a gun" or a "domestic disturbance” call, is going to walk up to a person and confront them because they appear to be a threat? If you start to feel uneasy, I have no problem with you approaching them but understand that dangerous situations happen fast, and before you know it, someone is hurt (look at the West Freeway, Texas church shooting).
The article went on to say that a suspicious-looking man walked into one of the contributor's church. The person appeared to be intoxicated, was dirty, and wearing a hooded parka. It also seems that church safety knew he was a retired U.S. Army Special Forces soldier. They observed him, watched him sit down, and promptly nod off. They go on and ask the question, "What's more disruptive—letting the guy sleep or making a scene? You don't make a scene if the person is not disruptive. So, when the service was over, we approached him and said he had to leave. This is where experience comes into play." Not sure how much experience the quoted resources had, but this is really bad advice.
Let’s talk about this scenario; no intoxicated person should be allowed in your church, period, that is a disruption. As soon as they realized he was drunk, a minister should have gone to him and asked him to step out of the service to talk. Law enforcement should have been called. You can have law enforcement wait in the parking lot in case all things go perfect, but it is better to have them and not need them than to need them, and they are still a phone call away.
In my experience with intoxicated people who wake up disoriented, not knowing where they are or how they got there, they are most likely to become disruptive. Many times, they come out of that “peaceful” sleep, ready to fight. This isn’t Otis of Mayberry. Another thing that bothers me about this story is that the church safety knew he was a retired U.S. Army Special Forces soldier. I have known a few soldiers in the Special Forces, and I can tell you almost all of them are stand up guys.
Most I know would not show up at a church dirty, intoxicated, and wearing a hooded parka unless there is a significant issue in their life. Anything from broken family to PTS, this is a cry for help. This person should have been stopped before he got into the worship center, talked to in a supporting way, and should have found him a safe ride home. Think about this, what if he started snoring in the middle of the service? Do you wake him then, with the greater possibility of a larger disturbance because you were being nice and let him come in and sleep one-off? In this story, they woke him up after the service and told him to leave. What if he got into a car and had an accident and killed an innocent person? Some attorney will have a few questions for your church and the actions of the safety team.
Church safety and security volunteers are not law enforcement. Sure, you may have retired or even some active-duty officers on your team, but without the proper equipment, as in a bulletproof vest and radios to the cavalry, you are still at a disadvantage. Calling local law enforcement needs to be in every safety team's training. It should be a bullet point in every scenario you train on and written in your policies and procedures. Too many lives have already been cut short due to not having the experts on location. We must be proactive and not reactive.
If you have a safety company come in and does not first talk about honoring God and expanding His kingdom or doesn’t say you need to have a close relationship with local law enforcement, I would hesitate to let them do your training. Some companies put on a good act like they care about the church but are that false ambassador in sheep clothing.
If your church needs assistance in putting a plan together, considering using our free resources on our webpage as a starting point. These downloads are free. After that, consider having a conversation with me on how to protect your flock within your church with the main focus on the expansion of God’s kingdom and a partnership with your local law enforcement. We used to have a saying on the police department, “we would rather be called and not needed than called after the stuff hit the fan.”
Be safe out there 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.