Develop a Volunteer Safety and Security Team

It can be challenging to build a safety and security ministry based on volunteers, but it can be done. By following this five-step process, you can create a volunteer force that sustains itself and provides fulfillment to the individuals who give their time and energy to make it a success.


Identify
Decide whom you want involved in your ministry. Make a list of the attributes you desire the safety and security team to display. Some general characteristics might include:

  • Strong people skills
  • Mental and emotional stability
  • Keen ability to observe people and situations
  • Good judgment and not impulsive

It’s also important to look for people with professional law enforcement backgrounds, retired or active.

When considering “civilians” for this ministry, recruit with care. While a person may have a license to carry a concealed weapon, inexperienced gun carriers generally do not have the proper skills to react in stressful situations. They may not be the best choice for your team.

For the safety side of your team, look for emergency medical technicians, registered nurses, and doctors.


Recruit

Now that you identified potential participants for your safety and security team, the next step is asking them to join. Here are some dos and don’ts:

  • Do: Meet face-to-face. Describe exactly what you’re recruiting for, and explain all of the ups and downs involved in this volunteer position
  • Don’t: Oversell or glorify the position, beg, or say ‘God told me you should do this.’

Above all, make sure your prospective volunteer knows that an application process involving a criminal background check is required. Relay the benefits of screening the background of all candidates and the protection such screenings provide for the church, volunteers, and ministry participants.


Train

Nothing damages volunteers’ enthusiasm more than throwing them into a job without proper training and orientation. In a potentially dangerous ministry like safety and security, policy and procedural guidelines play a big part in the training process.

Generally, safety and security training involves both individual and group activities. You’ll need to explain your church’s policy and guidelines for dealing with different types of security needs—domestic violence versus teenage pranks, for example.

Define the use of force in detail—intricate detail—identifying the level of force needed for various situations. This is a “red flag” issue. Discuss weapons and which members of the team are permitted to carry a concealed weapon. Do not undervalue the importance of this discussion and the necessity for your team volunteers to understand your church’s policy regarding weapons and their use.

Safety and security training should be ongoing, scheduled, and completed at regular intervals. Attendance should be mandatory—no exceptions.


Deploy

This step deploys your new volunteer to his or her area of responsibility. On the first deployment, it’s important to check in at regular intervals and see how your new volunteer is doing.

Over time, you also should rotate all your volunteers into each of the positions your ministry oversees. Every volunteer should have an opportunity to become familiar with all areas of the ministry, to the point that they can be called upon to function in any area if necessary. Flexibility is an important element of an effective safety and security ministry.


Manage

Arguably, this could be most important step in the process. In managing the ministry, you’ll not only help volunteers assume an important job in the church, but also help them to see it as a personal ministry.

Try not to allow volunteers’ excitement about their ministry get the best of them. If team members serve every weekend for all services and extra events during the week, that excitement can fade quickly. It will be replaced by burnout, fatigue, discouragement, and even spiritual exhaustion.

To prevent this situation, leadership is critical. Establish a serving schedule that intentionally gives volunteers time off with their family. Allow no exceptions to the schedule you develop. We all need time away for spiritual refreshment and time to relax. The result is likely to be long-term service and volunteers who are refreshed and ready to serve.