security training for church volunteers

Where to Start with Church Security Training

When it comes to security at your church, few churches get it right. Most churches settle for a volunteer walking the grounds during services. Some have a security team roving on golf carts while others opt to hire an off-duty police officer to maintain presence on campus.

In reality, every church needs a security plan that every volunteer is aware of and ready to execute in the case of an emergency.

In this post we’re going to answer the who, what, when, and how of training your volunteers for security scenarios like active shooter events and suspicious activity on campus.

  • Who should receive security training?
  • What should you cover in security training?
  • When should you provide security training?
  • How do you get all volunteers to engage in security training?

Before we answer each of these questions, I want to lay the groundwork of why security training is so important in the church today. Beyond the sobering statistics around active shooter events and live fire situations on church campuses, there are practical reasons that your people should be ready to respond.

First, your people trust you to be prepared for reasonably predictable risks. That includes risks related security and safety from bad actors. Second, the Bible is clear that God’s people should be protected. Third, most state laws will hold the church organization and leaders accountable for providing both training and preventative measures.

Who should receive security training?

Everyone possible. The simple answer to this question is also the most daunting. However, most churches aren’t going to be training regular churchgoers in safety tips.

So, the more achievable answer to this question is that every Sunday morning volunteer and staff member should receive security training. If they serve on campus, then they should be aware of your security procedures and what they’re supposed to do in case of an emergency.

That goal, 100% coverage of security training for all volunteers, may seem impossible. But with the right approach, you can get there. It’s easier than you think…and less expensive, too.

What should you cover in security training?

Part of the reason that security training doesn’t happen or is only provided to a small group of people in the church is that the scope of potential topics is massive. It’s overwhelming for most pastors to get started.

That’s why I always encourage leaders to start simple. Since you’re aiming for broad coverage, keep it simple. Cover response and readiness scenarios for active shooter events and what to do about suspicious or disruptive characters.

When it comes to active shooter training, cover the basics. Teach your volunteers how to respond to an active shooter event, how to “run, hide, or fight” in such an event, how to alert and respond to law enforcement, and then what to expect following such an event.

Don’t overthink this part of the training. Keep it simple for now. You can go deeper into more training down the road, but start simple.

When should you provide security training?

If you’ve never done any type of security training, you should start that process immediately. Waiting to get started is both poor planning and opens you up to great risk.

Start with one entry-level course that’s required for all Sunday volunteers. Keep it brief and make it accessible very soon. Even if you’re not able to cover everything you’d like to cover, getting the basics in front of your people sooner than later is a win.

As for what time of year is the best…this time of year…when you’re reading this post. There’s no optimal time of year to provide potential life-saving training. Make it happen soon, no matter what time of year it is when you’re reading this.

How do you get all volunteers to engage in security training?

Calling a training meeting at short notice is guaranteed to get you low turnout for the training event. You’re not likely to host two identical training meetings back to back for different people’s schedules, either. That means you’ll have big gaps in your volunteer ranks with lots of people untrained.

Instead of running a training meeting or series of meetings, put your training on TrainedUp. Create an online course that people can enroll and complete any time, anywhere. Your people will be able to make it fit their schedule and you’ll be able to verify with records that your people actually completed the training.

That last point is important. It’s vital, for legal reasons, that you are able to provide training records for anyone on your volunteer teams when it comes to security training. So many people are happy to sue when something goes wrong and the church is at legal risk without properly documented training for all team members.

Get Started Immediately

Take the time now to take a step toward providing security training for your church. It’s a healthy and responsible step toward keeping your people and families safe. We’d love to get you going quickly. Get in touch with us via chat if you’re curious how we can help you make it happen now.

About Scott Magdalein

Scott Magdalein is the founder of TrainedUp. Previously, he worked as project manager for YouVersion and Church Online, a software developer at Treehouse, a digital director for an ad agency, and as an Executive Pastor in multiple local churches. He lives in Jacksonville, Florida with his wife and three kids.