Saturday, March 3

"Armor Bearers" Become Common in Churches?

Note: This article was written by Bob Chauncey who runs the Church Security Institute (not to be confused with the Christian Security Institute, which is run by Chuck Chadwick). Bob published this story on his blog and offered to share it with us to aid in this weeks topic of guns in churches.

‘Armor Bearers’ Become More Common in Come Churches
By: Bob Chauncey

This minister is the “armor bearer” of his Senior Pastor. An armor bearer — a Biblical reference to the one who carries the spear & shield of a warrior — is traditionally the person in the church who assists the pastor in everything from adjusting the temperature in the sanctuary to picking up visitors at the airport to running interference for the minister.

This minister’s day job is working as a deputy sheriff. But on Sundays, for the past 10 years, he has been the spiritual bodyguard of his Pastor. During the service, he is seated behind the pastor, his attention directed at the congregation in the pews.

“I’m looking for new people coming into the sanctuary. I see what clothing they are wearing, if they have their hands in their pockets. I look at their ankles — a bulge could be a firearm,” said the armor bearer, who has served as an armor bearer for more than half his life.

In many churches, the armor bearer is not armed and is not responsible for protecting the minister. He is more of an unpaid personal assistant. “The term ‘armor bearer’ was basically a person who assisted the pastor,” one pastor. “What it has evolved into is men and women who are prepared to assist and deter any kind of attack.”

In most small churches, the responsibility for church security falls to the deacons, ushers and greeters. While larger churches can afford private security and off-duty police officers, small churches rely on the keen eyes and quick responses of a few men trained to intercede.

Greeters are instructed to watch for people entering the church who behave oddly or look suspicious. Ushers are trained to deal with those who become disruptive. Often, it is someone who arrived at church intoxicated, high or angry. Without disrupting the service, ushers will escort the person outside the church.

“The key to security of a church is not about bodyguards. It’s about layers of security — from the guy directing traffic to the greeter to the deacons who might help them to their seats,” said a former security director, who now heads his own faith-based security company.

Rarely are they required to intercept someone who is violent or threatening — nor are they expected to put themselves in danger. “You can’t tell people to put themselves in harm’s way,” said one pastor.

“I consider that my role — to make sure the man of God is protected,” said one armor bearer, who served in the Army and nearly 10 years in law enforcement. “Before he would die, I would die. That is my job.”

At one Worship Center, trouble has to pass through the discrete but discerning eyes of greeters and ushers who are instructed to sense danger from the averted gaze, the sweaty-palm handshake, the shirking of an embrace. If trouble makes it past those full-body screeners, there’s the person or persons who i/ares the Armor Bearer.

If lethal force is required,” said the pastor, “we have a person serving here who is armed and dangerous.

At the same time, nearly every congregation has men and women with military and law-enforcement experience whose training and background have prepared them to step in when there is trouble inside the sanctuary. Churches need a Safety Security Plan, Teams to carry out the Plan in order to Be Prepared for whatever may come, a natural disaster, fire, medical illness or injury, disorderly or disruptive persons, a lost child, kidnapping or even an attack.

It’s too late after it happens to be sorry you did not have a Plan… take time to make one before it happens so you can show you were Good Stewards of what He provides, a church should have a Good Shepherd, usually the pastor or Rabbi, or ministry leader, whose job, like the Shepherd, is to provide for and protect his flock under his care.

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