Deciding the type, duties and size of the security team can be an imposing task. This is part of the reason a security assessment is needed when your church decides to investigate implementation of a team to provide safety and security services to the church family. The type of safety or security team you put into place is determined by a number of issues. One of these is based on the size of the church and how many people attend?
Today’s churches come in a very large range of sizes. Today’s churches include:
The Small Church
The small church can start with a less than a dozen members with no budget and lay pastors to 200 members meeting in a place with a 100-year plus history.
The Medium Church
The medium size church will typically have between 200 and 500 members. They may meet in a well established church with a long history or in a local strip mall or movie theater.
The Large Church
The large church will have somewhere between 500 and 5,000 members and meets in a larger church complex with multiple events happening every Sunday and during the week. They will feature an extensive offering for the entire family.
The Mega Church
The mega church is the largest of today’s churches and will start at about 5,000 members and often exceeds 25,000 in the largest of these churches. The mega church will meet in a large campus facility typically in a modern service. This church will offer a extremely large menu of events, ministries and programs that appeal to many.
Designing the Church Security Team to the Church Size and Needs
The size, make up and duties of the Security Team is closely aligned with the size, budget and public stance of the church. Although the small church and the mega church will have many of the same needs and missions, the security needs are met differently. As I talked to a large number of people that have put teams into place, they have fallen into several basic classifications that also tend to align themselves with the church types listed above. Based on these conversations, I will try to define the security team needs for the basic church sizes.
Security for the Small Church
The small church is one of the easiest to deal with for security needs. The team can be an informal or formal team. In this size church most people are recognized to all who attend and frequently any problems or issues are well know. Visitors are immediately noticed and hopefully greeted and made welcome. In this environment the team will be all volunteer and will normally consist of 2 to 6 concerned members who are willing to assist if there would happen to be an issue. Medical response is normally by the local volunteer fire department or city fire department of the church is located in a larger town or city.
Security for the Medium Church
The medium church has a much more difficult time in meeting the security needs of the church family. Depending on the layout of the facility and the number and type of events, the medium church will need 10 to 20 members on the team to handle all of the services and special events. This is almost always accomplished with an all-volunteer staff. Putting the staff together can be a difficult task with a meager to non-existent budget. Staff members need to be dedicated and willing to spend the time needed to train to an acceptable level. A team at this level also needs a fully documented manual with procedures to define the duties and operation of the team. The leader of this team is the key to building a successful program. Typically the ideal candidate will be one with a background in law enforcement or security and a very mature person who handles high-pressure situations well.
Security for the Large Church
The large church will have most of the issues of the medium size church but frequently have the advantage of a part time or full time leader to co-ordinate the activities. More members are needed to handle the increased activity and the larger events that the large churches will feature. Issues in the children’s ministry multiply with the larger number of families that attend the events. The security of the pastoral staff also increases especially if the church and pastors take controversial stances on today’s issues such as abortion and same sex relationships. The number of volunteers needed to adequately staff for this size of church range from 20 to 50 church members. These are frequently supplemented with off duty police officers to provide an armed presence in states that prohibit CCW in churches or have requirement that may not be met by a typical volunteer. The team manual and procedures are critical to presenting a professional face to the church family and instilling faith that all team members will operate to the same standards and competence. Increased resources are needed and include two-way radios, AED’s, first aid equipment, CCTV systems and children’s tracking systems.
Security for the Mega Church
The mega church goes into a whole new level of security requirements. Most mega churches have a full time staff that is dedicated to the protection of the church family and pastoral staff. In some mega churches, volunteer members for some duties supplement the full time staff. This church also typically provided a much higher level of executive protection than the other churches listed above. The staffing at this level must be very professional in all dealings with the public. These churches have to deal with all of the issues listed above as well a securing a facility that has the attendance of the size of many small cities. A security team will often accompany the senior pastor when travel is required and some even provide protection 24 hours a day. This will require a significant budget to provide this level of service.
You must take a detailed look at your church and the needs that will be serviced by your security team. Once you do this, you can design the team to meet your requirements and be prepared to grow as the church grows.