Training a Church Safety Team

Simply having a church safety team is not enough, especially if team members cannot respond properly to medical emergencies or threats against the pastor or members of the congregation. Team members must train continuously to master appropriate skills for the roles they’re assigned.

Begin initial training immediately when members join the team

Schedule an initial training session soon after bringing new team members into the fold. Subjects to cover with all team members should include:

  • Individual roles and responsibilities
  • Threats, hazards, and protective actions
  • Emergency response procedures
  • Evacuation, shelter, and accountability procedures
  • Notification, warning, and communication procedures
  • Location and use of common emergency equipment
  • Emergency shutdown procedure for utilities

Ongoing training should increase with responsibility

All team members benefit from regular training about emergency response procedures. Some team members, such as medical responders, may require additional certifications, for which you will have to arrange instruction from an expert trainer. Generally, training should increase as responsibility increases. Consider these ongoing training topics:

  • First Aid, CPR, and AED use
  • Child protection procedures
  • Church policies and procedures
  • Dealing with a range of people (church staff, difficult people, and the congregation at large)
  • Verbal de-escalation techniques
  • Appropriate use of force
  • When and how to complete an incident report

Use a variety of training tactics

People learn in different ways. Safety and security team training typically follows one or more of these formats:

  • Classroom instruction: policies, procedures, and emergency scenarios communicated on paper and discussed in a group setting.
  • Tabletop exercises: verbally discuss crisis scenarios and potential responses.
  • Drills or exercises: repeated rehearsal and role-playing reinforces the lesson and helps keep the information fresh. Local law enforcement officials may be willing to assist in practicing scenarios.

Document training

Record the type of training and certification that safety and security team members obtain, not only to track training progress, but also to allow the ministry to defend itself legally in the event of a lawsuit involving the ministry’s response to an emergency. Maintain training records for at least five years after training completion.