If you’re “sheep dogging” at your church – serving on the safety team – there are three things you had better consider. Let’s take a quick look at them:
VERBAL DE-ESCALATION. If you are not a good communicator; if you do not have the ability to calm someone down with your words, you might want to reconsider whether you should serve in such a capacity. Verbal de-escalation is a must for EVERYONE on the team. You will use the words of your mouth a million times more than you will any type of lethal force.
The scripture says that the “power of life and death is in the tongue” (Proverbs 18:20-21). Never is this truer than when someone finds himself in a heated situation. If you cannot calm someone with your words (assuming, of course, there is no deadly threat), you might be better in some other position.
When the woman caught in adultery was brought to Jesus, he defended her: he saved her from an awful death of stoning. However, he did not use any man-made weapon to do so: he saved her life with the use of his words (“He that has no sin, let him cast the first stone…” John 8).
If your church safety team does not practice verbal de-escalation and fine tune their skills in this matter, you will likely find yourself in a bind at some point in the future. If you lack these skills, you may even make the situation worse.
As a police officer, I witnessed this scene play out many times. I often witnessed police officers who, lacking such skills, only made the matter worse.
When speaking to someone at your church who is causing a disturbance, there are basic fundamentals you must practice –
· Face them with your body as they speak to you
· Look them in the eyes
Why is this important? The reason is obvious. YOU MUST CONVEY TO THIS PERSON THAT THE ONLY THING IN THE WORLD YOU CARE ABOUT IN THAT MOMENT IS ….. THEM.
If they detect that you are not interested in their dilemma, it may set them off. They may leave, but they will leave with anger in their bosom. And that increases the chances that they may come back at a later date and unleash that anger on … your flock…
And one more thing about this: do not get on your mobile phone while talking to them. I have tried to carry on conversations with people (including preachers) who could not pull themselves away from their phone long enough to hear my heart. This is wrong! Leave that phone in your back pocket. Listening to this person tells him that you CARE.
2- STATION SOMEONE OUTSIDE - NEAR THE MAIN POINT OF ENTRY. I am puzzled by many of the phone calls I get about church safety: questions about shatter-proof glass, cameras in the classrooms, etc. I always respond to the caller with the same question: “Do you have someone stationed outside near the front door.”
The reason I ask this, is that it is at the main point of entry that the killer will enter. The stats bear this out: they’re coming from the parking lot and through the main door. Not having someone at the front door is like a goal line defense that left its defensive line on the bench! Your opponent will score, and do so with ease. Unfortunately, in your scenario, it won’t be a mere touchdown, but chaos and death.
Furthermore - and this is something your church will have to decide – this person(s) assigned to the main point of entry should consider being armed. I know that many of you will have a hard time with this. But how strange that you would be troubled by such a recommendation!
Are you actually more concerned about a defender who is armed than you are about the armed killer who is about to enter your sanctuary - and slaughter the innocent? I simply do not understand your reasoning. Surely your love for the flock is greater than that.
Why would you be more concerned about an armed defender (assuming he is trained, of course) than you would be about a killer who is going to enter onto your property and cause such havoc that your people will be traumatized FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES???!!!
“Jimmy, we just have a problem with guns.” What? Shouldn’t your “greater problem” be with the one coming to murder your flock? Your focus must be on stopping the killer, not on the trained individual willing to defend you.
I was once talking with a member of a church safety team. I asked him: “What is your plan should an armed killer show up?” I was caught off guard by his reply: “I am going to talk him down.”
Now, as stated above, verbal de-escalation is a must. However, it is no guarantee that your words will stop a killer. As a matter of fact, you should know that 91% of the time when a killer comes to a church, HE COMPLETES HIS MISSION!
This dear brother does not understand the psyche (mindset) of a killer. Once he arrives at your church he is “in the zone.” His mind has gone to a dark place; a place where evil dwells. Very seldom do such crazed individuals have a change of heart.
The killer at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas had certainly gone into the world of devils. He entered the church and shot and killed 26 worshipers – and injured 20 more. He then entered his vehicle and drove off.
Witnesses who saw him leave said he was, “…methodical…like a robot,” and, they added, he seemed “possessed.”
He was in a zone where evil controls. Oddly enough, after killing so many, he called his parents and repeatedly said how sorry he was. He had, at that point, returned to a small sense of normalcy. But the damage was done.
It is a decision you must make. But know this: these massacres are NOT going to stop. I speak to the experts often about this matter and they all say the same thing: “We ain’t seen nothing yet.”
Discuss these matters with your team, and the pastoral staff. Don’t allow your religion to feed you false ideas, and don’t fall for the errant ideas of the pacifist. Consider these words of C.S. Lewis:
“…I can respect an honest pacifist, though I believe him to be entirely mistaken.”
Pastor David George serves at a church in Washington State. After preaching his Father’s Day message last June, he went to a Wal-Mart in a nearby city, along with some of the members of his family. While there, a gunman started shooting, and wounded several people.
Pastor David is not your ordinary preacher. He was armed - and trained. Concerned for his family and community, he went after the gunman and shot and killed him. He then retrieved his medical bag and treated the wounded.
Pastor David spoke at our Seattle Sheepdog Seminar a few days ago. He says he is often asked about his “theology on self-defense.” His reply is rather simple: “I don’t have one,” he tells them. “The Bible says to love God and your neighbor - and that’s what I try to do.”
3- I have one final suggestion. And quite frankly, I am surprised I have to say this: If you do not have tourniquets on your person, you are NOT ready!
Furthermore, if you do not have tourniquets on your person, you are saying, “It will never happen here.”
I am very puzzled about this matter. I will show up at a seminar with 100 tourniquets. Several hundred are in attendance, however, in spite of my pleas I sometimes leave there with half of the tourniquets. What is going on?
And the ones I plead with are the sheepdogs (I think?). If YOU don’t get it, what hope does your congregation have?
Please get some tourniquets.
One final word …
AS THE CHURCH OF THE LIVING GOD, WE HAVE NOTHING TO FEAR.
We are sometimes accused of fear-mongering. That is not our intent. But please understand this: fear is the result of NOT being prepared. Fear is what the college freshman feels when he takes a test for which he has NOT studied. His fear is justified. If you have a safety team at your church, and they are prepared, you will minimize the fear factor.
We pray that all of our churches are kept safe. Have a good Sunday!
All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name!
We would love to come to you church and conduct a
Sheepdog Seminar. Call 817.437.9693 for details.