Sunday evening I observed a very interesting event at my local church that I felt could serve as a good learning tool for my readers. The church had a special meeting that allowed the congregation to interact with the pastoral staff. The format of the meeting was a question and answer session over a public microphone.
During this event there was one particular member of the audience that seemed to be sticking out more then normal. She had made her way up to the front row of the auditorium and sat in a reserved seating section that was designated for the hearing impaired (she was not hearing impaired). It was clear that she was not familiar with the normal format of the service because most regular attendees would have known that this area was specifically reserved. This was a mental note that she may not be a regular attendee to the church and perhaps may not have belonged at a meeting that was designed specifically regular attendees. I happened to be sitting in the same area, which allowed me to monitor the situation more closely. I observed over a period of time that she was making abnormal gestures, (rocking back and forth, looks of frustration, lack of awareness to surroundings, ect) all the classic signs that something "was just not right". When there was an opportunity to speak, she quickly jumped to her feat and was attempting to relocate herself into a position that she would be able to get the attention of the person controlling the microphone.
I notified our security team of the situation. One member of the team even relocated his position to better assist the situation. As predicted once the woman received the microphone she refused to stop talking. At one point she approach the podium in an aggressive manner and walked up onto the stage. This is where the title of my post comes in... "A Pastors Involvement in Church Security". Like most well trained security teams our security team reactive instinctively. They began to close in on the lady from opposing sides. At that moment the pastor took verbal control of the situation. It reminded me of a "Verbal Judo" class that I took in the police academy. The pastor was able to take control in a professional manner, de-escalating the situation all by the words of his mouth. The security team was well positioned if the lady decided to not respond or if a weapon presented itself.
I felt like this was a good learning tool for us to ask the question "are our pastors involved with our security team?". The pastor of this church understood the role of the security team, he knew what they were going to do and when they were going to do it, he also understood his role as the leader of the church. He wanted to first show love before he showed force. Many pastors man not know how to respond in a situation like the one described. It is important to train and role play with your church leadership so they understand how to handle a similar situation.
It is common for protesters or simply a congregational member who disagrees, to voice that disagreement during a sermon or message. The solution is not alway for the security team to act, but rather for the security team to be ready to act and for the leadership of the church to attempt to de-escilate the problem.