Things to consider:
Will forcefully stopping the two from entering the Sanctuary create a disturbance?
Will allowing them to enter create a danger?
Do they appear to be high or intent on violence?
Do you have the personnel to handle the situation should it become violent?
Will the male, physically defend the female should you stop only her?
Are they going to rush the stage?
As you can see, there are many variables to consider before you take action. Has your team ever considered this scenario and how you would respond?
Our team has practiced scenarios such as this. In this case, we had two Safety Team members attending service with their families. Each had a radio. We also have pastors willing to step up if needed in an emergency. A hand signal was passed to a pastor sitting in the balcony who had witnessed the entrance by the couple. That pastor moved downstairs to a position, initially beside the couple and then moved directly behind them where he could see the backpack clearly. The two Safety Team members who were sitting with their families, moved to predetermined positions blocking access to the stage. The Team member who had initially attempted to stop the couple moved to a position across the aisle and two rows behind the couple. Each member was prepared to move in should the Team member directing the movements, or the situation require it. The female interrupted the service twice while the pastor was speaking. The pastor, aware of the presence of the Safety Team handled the interruptions well and indicated he would speak with her after the service. The service ended within three minutes after the second and last interruption. The couple was gently surrounded and escorted out of the Sanctuary, keeping other members of the congregation clear should anything violent occur. Both left the property knowing very well they were being ‘escorted’ by Safety Team personnel.
These situations are dynamic and could turn negative very quickly. You as a Safety Team member have to continually consider your options as a situation progresses. Will the right decisions be made? Hopefully they will and the outcome will determine that in the end. Did your decision make it worse? Did it resolve the situation? Did it stop violence from occurring? Did it create a violent situation? If a violent situation occurs, how will you proceed? These are all things your team needs to discuss beforehand. Develop a plan. Either include your pastors or church leaders in on the discussion or schedule a meeting with them to discuss your plans. Remember, some of them will have a different perspective on any given situation. Keep in mind, the safety of the congregation is the topic and the goal. Remember these things, plan for the worst and pray for the best. Be good, not just lucky.
Here is a scenario many of you may have already experienced. br brFive minutes before the end of service, two people, one male, one female walk into the lobby headed toward the Sanctuary doors, a distance of approximately forty feet. Both subjects are in their twenties. The male is in a dark, baggy jacket, a beanie and his hands are in his pockets. The female is dressed in a dark, short-sleeve blouse with a lighter colored shirt underneath and she is carrying a bulky backpack. br brLike all teams consisting of volunteers, our team goes through periods where we are short-handed due to vacations, school events and life in general. On this particular Sunday, we had two people working. One at the front door and one downstairs at the other open door. Both have radios and can communicate with each other. The congregation had approximately 275 people attending. The Safety Team member at the front entrance attempted to intercept the couple before they entered the Sanctuary. He was able to advise them that there was only five minutes left in the service as the two moved purposefully and quickly toward the entrance to the Sanctuary. The female thanked him for the information and entered the Sanctuary before the Safety Team member could get in front of her. The male was behind the Safety Team member. The Team member stepped into the Sanctuary behind the female and then stepped to the side away from the trailing male. The two of them walked purposely toward the front of the Sanctuary and sat in the third row from the front. Within thirty-seconds of sitting down, the female began engaging the pastor who was just finishing up the sermon. All those in close proximity to the couple were very distracted by the disruption. Here are your considerations. If you attempt to physically stop the couple from moving toward the front of the Sanctuary, you will create a loud, possibly service-ending disturbance. If you allow them to sit close to the stage, they may choose to rush the stage and become ‘the show’. Based on your policies and procedures, what would you do. Check back tomorrow and I will let you know our actions and the outcome.
We will be conducting Scenario trainings at New Hope Eugene on the following dates. The first is October 29 from 6 to 9pm. This is for the New Hope Safety team only; however, we have a limited number of observer spots for those from other churches, available for this training. Please contact me if you are interested in observing. The debrief for this training is November 7th, 6 to 9pm. Our second Scenario training date is November 12th. This training is for outside churches who have attended the Awareness Training class. We are limited to 25 attendees. There will be spots for observers. Please contact me with the number of team members you will bring. These trainings are invaluable. They will create as close to a real situation as you can get and the training your people receive through these scenarios will pay many dividends later. The debriefing for this training is scheduled for November 21, 6 to 8:30pm. Again, contact me through messaging or through email ([email protected]) with the number of attendees you will have.