Sometimes there is a reason the “road less traveled” isn’t used often. Wise travelers have researched it and found it will take you nowhere or it will bypass the very things you need to see or do or it will actually take you twice as long to get to where you need to go–or it can lead to tragedy. Shortcuts and seldom used roads can be interesting but they can have many perils.
*A trainer told me he doesn’t use photos in PowerPoint because the “thumbnail” images he copied from image searches were blurry. I suggested he use one of the free photo sites available and he said he doesn’t have that much time, so he just grabs a thumbnail image. I said, “But, you aren’t using the thumbnails because they’re not clear.” He said, “Yeah, but they’re quick.”
*Recipe sites abound with people who give a recipe one star then list the things they changed about it. One woman on www.cook.com wrote, “This cake stuck so bad it was ruined trying to get it out of the pan! I didn’t have time to do the whole grease and flour thing so I used spray-on oil, but there’s no reason that shouldn’t have worked. Now I’m out a lot of money and time.”
*An acquaintance I knew from long ago told me recently about being fired twice. He said, “You know me, I take the road less traveled and that doesn’t go over well in a lot of these stodgy places.”
*One of the documents on church safety and security that I distribute is about how to conduct a thorough assessment of the status of every aspect of the property, people, places, programs and processes of a place of worship. It involves assessing in each season and at different times of the day and night, in a variety of ways. A security director wrote to me and said, “We used your material and it was a great help. But, we didn’t want to get involved with so much assessing so we just did it on a Saturday and called it good.”
*Last week I was in Salida, Colorado teaching a class for Sheriff Pete Palmer‘s deputies and some officers from the Salida Police Department. As usual I stayed in a motel on Highway 50 and I thought I was seeing most of Salida, a nice little town. It turns out, that is a bypass around the real Salida–which is much lovelier than I realized.
The bottom line: Of course there are useful shortcuts for some things and taking an isolated road can be interesting. However, when you’re learning a new skill, new habit, new process, new recipe or new anything else, do it the complete way, the way you were told, the way it’s described, the tested way. When you’re an expert you can develop shortcuts. Another bit of advice: If you are bound and determined to do your own thing, your own way, in life, work or relationships, don’t complain when the cake sticks to the pan.
This is Highway 50 that skirts the main portion of Salida
Downtown Salida on E Street, South of US 291 and North of US 50. Nice little shops!
Free Church Safety and Security Seminar
in Ponca City, Oklahoma
on October 9th, 2012.
Another one planned for Kansas City, MO
On October 9th, I’m teaching my 6-hour Worship Without Worry material as a Train the Trainer class. Participants will get the PowerPoint slides and other materials, so they can go back to their churches and teach the fundamentals of whole-church safety and security.
This class is designed for church leaders, security directors, maintenance and facilities staff and others who represent a church. It is also designed for police officers who are involved in the security programs of a church or who are community resource officers or crime prevention officers.
Contact me for the details and a copy of the ad. The police chaplains are sponsoring it in a huge meeting room so all are welcome. It’s free except for a $15 lunch and refreshment charge.
I don’t do many of these seminars, but Sgt. Fred Landis of the Ponca City Police Department worked hard to make this happen. I’d love to see you there if you live in that area! It’s worthwhile and very fun!
The date for the KCMO class hasn’t been set yet, but it will be in November. It will either be free or for a very nominal cost. Let me know if you want to receive a copy of the ad when we develop it.
NOTE added in 2012. I’m now sending a combined Word document of about 150 pages that contains eight safety and security items:
1. How To Conduct a Thorough Safety and Security Assessment
2. The Role of Greeters and Ushers in Church Safety and Security
3. The Role of the Platform Team in an Emergency
4. How to Develop an Emergency Medical Response Team (Even Without Medical Staff)
5. Brief Thoughts on Developing a Security Team
6. How to Plan for a Special Event
7. How to Develop a Security Plan
8. A sample security team document.
You can print it all, forward it to others or copy and paste from it into your own material.
Background about Church Safety and Security Material
At the end of 2007, after the tragic events in Arvada, Colorado and at New Life Church in Colorado Springs, my intent I wrote a 23 page document on the role of greeters and ushers in church security, to assist a few pastor friends who had asked me for suggestions. Then, I wrote a lengthier document on how to assess the safety and security of a place of worship, based on my experiences assessing courthouses, government buildings and facilities–including a nuclear site–as well as churches and church schools. Later I added three more short documents, one which is really just an edited response to someone who asked me about how to develop a church security team. That one is not all-inclusive by any means, but apparently has assisted many churches in their efforts.
Five free documents on church safety and security.
Altogether I have five documents on church safety and security that are yours for free, if you contact me and ask for them. The reason I don’t just have a download button is that I like to hear personally from those who want to use the material—and sometimes I hear back from them when they have used it! I’m always interested in what church is represented by the person requesting it, where it’s located, the size of the church and anything else of interest. Sometimes the person requesting doesn’t represent a specific church, and that’s fine too. I’ll send the material without any background information, but I enjoy having it.
8,000 16,000 so far! Who was to know that word-of-mouth advertising, viral marketing and a great price (they’re free!) would accomplish so much? Probably the fact that they were free added a great deal to the popularity of the material! However, I know that hundreds of churches are using the material. I have spoken at many conferences and meetings in which attendees have commented on how helpful all of documents have been. Several other websites also distribute it and it is given out regularly by police departments and sheriffs offices, denominational groups and at various conferences. As a result, the material has been distributed in North America, Great Britain, Europe, China, Japan, several countries in Africa and in Mexico and Central and South America. I’ve enjoyed the whole experience tremendously!
Why is the material so helpful? I think there are three reasons the material is helpful–and isn’t because of my expertise (although you can believe that too, if you want!).
1. The focus is on both safety and security. Certainly there are concerns in places of worship about active shooters and church violence of all kinds. However, accidents, injuries, crimes, misuse of money and authority, vehicle safety and weather, mechanical and medical emergencies all can harm church members and the activities of a place of worship. Focusing only on violent acts will tend to distract from all the other situations that require prevention and planning.
2. It is adaptable to any place of worship in any setting. I collected every book I could find on church safety and security and have found all of them to offer something worthwhile. However, many of them tend to be focused on specific settings or types of churches. Some of them are most concerned about response to violent acts and don’t mention other situations. Of course all can be adapted to other settings and problems, but often readers may not make the connections.
I have tried–I hope not to excess–to keep a wide variety of situations in mind. Storefront prayer rooms and cathedrals have similar yet very different problems. An urban church and a one room church in a remote rural location have similar and also different worries. A mega-church with programs going almost continuously has potential problems that a corner church in a small town does not–and the reverse is also true. However they both can be harmed in similar ways.
Whatever material you read, consider the principles and concepts and work around the fact that the church being described is different than yours.
3. Anyone who takes it a step at a time can apply the concepts and suggestions. Conducting a security assessment of a place of worship doesn’t require an expert. In fact, a moderately trained church member or team can probably do a better job than a stranger in most cases. For one thing, the church member can be present at various times to assess a wide-variety of programs and processes. This aspect of assessing is at the heart of my material. To be thorough you must assess in various situations throughout the year. That can’t be done by the local police or a hired consultant.
One of the biggest misconceptions about security is that law enforcement personnel know more about it than a lay person might. In truth, most law enforcement officers, even community resource officers, have never received specific training in how to conduct a thorough assessment of any facility or to make recommendations about it. They are often not accustomed to the limitations, requirements and restraints involved in making a church safe and secure, compared to a bank, a courthouse or a home. They are willing to do it and will certainly apply their knowledge, skills and intuitive thinking–which can be considerable. But, they are usually only available on a limited and one-time basis and their abilities will vary, as with any task.
You may find that the help of the police or sheriffs office is just what you need. But keep in mind that you or anyone else who takes his or her time to do it right, following the guidelines in reasonable material, mine included, can do a very acceptable job.
HOW TO GET THE FREE DOCUMENTS ON CHURCH SAFETY AND SECURITY
You can use the comments section on this or other posts and ask for the material that way. Or, you can go to the Contact Me tab at the top of the site and use the space provided. Your email address is not published either way. I will only send you the material and will not contact you again, unless you get in touch. It’s an easy process.
I appreciate attribution if large portions are used, but as I often point out….I probably won’t know the difference! Also, be sure to share the documents with others in your denomination or community. It’s a great outreach to other churches, to show caring and concern.
There is no Eleventh Commandment About Church Safety and Security
Your place of worship is unique in its setting and vulnerabilities, and so are the members and their concerns. You and others can develop a program that grows over time and is adjusted as needed just for your church. There are no rules about it. Starting and doing something reasonable is better than waiting until someone knows how to develop something perfect. Take a leadership role in the safety and security of your church. Volunteer to help. Be a reasonable resource (not a naggy pain in the neck!). The important thing is to get started and keep going. Keep the faith!
Church Security Assessments–You Can Conduct One Very Effectively
Several weeks ago I posted that I was working on another church security document. It’s completed now and I’m happy to send it to anyone who requests it. I don’t have it as a download because frankly, I like to say hello to those who ask for material, and have met some great people all around the world that way! (I have sent the document on Greeters and Ushers to almost every continent and many, many countries, as well as to every state. It’s been very fun and gratifying!)
This new document is essentially a small (83 page) book on the topic of church security assessments and planning. The last part is an update of the greeter and usher document. The first part will be a tremendously helpful tool for those who want to get to know their place of worship from a safety and security perspective, as well as to plan for emergencies. You don’t have to hire someone or call someone to help you, with this as a guide.
You will find it to be more in-depth than any of the other material I have seen on the market right now–although those can be very helpful. They often have material I haven’t included in this one because of the limited scope of the topic. As long as people are well balanced and focused on effectiveness using best practices for security, it’s all useful and all worth reading.
Please use the contact form to get a free copy of this PDF file on church security. You can print it and distribute it or forward it freely, as long as it is not sold. I have also made this document a bit less secured than the last one, so you can select and copy portions of it in your own material if you wish. If you use large portions or the whole document, I’d appreciate attribution. But, I’ll leave that to your conscience!
Best wishes in your efforts to increase the safety and security of your place of worship!
Safety and Security Planning
for Places of Worship
UPDATE: Since I developed the document, How to Conduct a Safety and Security Assessment of a Place of Worship, it has been distributed on various sites including this one–and forwarded by many people to other congregations–to well over 5,000 places of worship of all sizes and in all settings. That is very gratifying!
I think one reason for the success of the document–a 95 page manual at this point–is that it presents a balanced view and is adaptable by any church. The price–FREE–is also good!
I’ve been asked several times about other information related to church security and I may develop something else. Time is the key factor, of course. But, if I do that, I’ll put a note on this site about it and let others know as well.
This is the original article I wrote about the document on assessing and it still is worthwhile to read.
In the last week, since the tragic shooting death of a pastor in a Baptist church in Maryville, Illinois, I have received hundreds of requests for my material on the role of Greeters and Ushers in Church Security. (It puts the request for that document to over 3,000 on my site alone, and many other sites offer it as well. That’s an amazing story all its own.)
I’ve also received many requests to provide training or assistance about conducting assessments in places of worship. This morning I received three phone calls from media sources wanting to know about the consulting I do about church security. I’ve told them all the same thing: I make presentations and provide training about professional and organizational development, and I can help people develop and implement plans of any kind that will be effective. However, I don’t focus solely on church security planning as a business, although there are others who do. For example, Glen Evans is a trainer who has a very useful site at www.churchsecuritymember.com.
My message about security planning is always the same: The people who work in and use a facility are the best ones to assess it, and they can do it without hiring a consultant. It is true that they might need to use some resources to assist their efforts, and certainly an outsider provides some good perspectives. And, I’m not actively discouraging the idea of hiring a trainer or consultant. But, the important thing is to simply look at the church and its events and processes with the eyes of someone who might want to cause harm or create a problem, and consider how to keep that from happening and how to respond if it does happen. It is possible for anyone to do that, just as they can do it for their own homes–and they can probably do it better for their own homes than anyone else could do it.
I’m working, right this moment, on a document that will help church leaders and others effectively assess the safety and security of their places of worship and take action to make it more safe. When it is completed I’ll update this post and send it out to those who have requested the other document on greeters and ushers. In the meantime, those who are reading this can send a request for the new document and as soon as it’s done, I’ll send it. It’s free and I’m happy to provide the information.
In the meantime, I think it’s worthwhile to note that all the security planning in the world could not likely have prevented the situation in Maryville. That doesn’t mean security planning is futile, just that security planning doesn’t make people and places invulnerable. But, it can help limit the harm–as happened in Maryville through quick responses. And, effective planning can prevent crime, injury and disruption simply because of obvious preparedness.
Security planning can be as valuable as the plan, because it raises awareness and helps everyone realize their responsibilities.
Use the contact form to let me know if you want to be put on the list for the free document on how to assess the safety and security of a place of worship.
An update on this free church security material!
This document on greeters and ushers has now been updated and included in the larger document (really a small book) with the title: How to Assess the Safety and Security of Your Place of Worship. It’s a tremendously helpful guide that will take you through the process and allow you to really get to know the safety and security of your place of worship, as well as to plan for emergencies. Please contact me for the free PDF file, which can be freely copied and distributed, but not sold. Send it to anyone you think could use it in their place of worship. I’m happy to see it out and about as a free resource! Tina Rowe, May 8, 2009
A Free 24 Page PDF: The Role of Greeters and Ushers in Church Security
The post below was originally published on January 12, 2008, and has resulted in over 1,800 requests for the document. (UPDATE: Over 2,500 as of May, 2009, from this site alone!)
That’s just the count of people writing to this site. There are several other sites who also offer it–some as a part of a subscription package for other things. (That bothers me, but I hope people will realize they can get it from other sources as well.) Several pastors have given it out at conferences and conventions, so I suppose it has been copied several thousand times by those people. I think all of that is both interesting and fun!
I have heard back from hundreds of pastors, security team leaders and others, and have enjoyed every message. I wish there was not a need for such material. But, I’m glad to be able to provide at least one piece of a security package.
I have also been asked to do presentations in several settings, and have done that on occasion, when circumstances made it possible. My underlying message is that planning is almost as valuable as the plan. There are some very good things that come from looking at safety and security systematically. It is never wasted time and effort. And, when done correctly, it is an energizing project for the entire church family.
Thank you for the contacts and your follow-up messages!
Church leaders, no matter what the size or location of the church, have a responsibility to develop plans and processes that help ensure the safety and security of members, visitors and church property. This is made more challenging by the fact that church buildings and congregations may be targeted for violence, threats or disruption. In addition, church buildings have the same risks as other buildings about safety and security problems related to natural disasters, fires, mechanical and electrical failures and safety hazards.
One of the key components of a church security program is observant and responsive greeters, ushers and deacons. These front-line roles are often the first people to see or hear problems, and often have access to all parts of the building before, during and after the service. But sadly, many greeters and ushers receive little or no training related to the role they can play in observing, getting help quickly and providing leadership in an emergency. Even if you have a security team, greeters and ushers are often the ones who first observe a problem situation and must react appropriately.
Church Security Concerns: The Role of Greeters and Ushers is a free, 24 page PDF document, which can be copied for use in church security training.
•It provides a well-balanced, realistic approach that can help the meeters and greeters of churches feel more confident and be more effective in situations of concern as well as in emergencies.
•This document has been useful for pastors, church security teams and greeter/usher teams, as well as being a great resource for distribution by law enforcement organizations.
The role of greeters and ushers in the area of church security (with or without a formal security team).
Awareness and response
Potential security concerns and options for action
A security self-evaluation checklist
This security information is a great addition to your church manual and should be part of the orientation training for all greeters, ushers, deacons and church leadership. Contact me for your FREE PDF copy of, Church Security Concerns: The Role of Greeters and Ushers.