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Protecting Your Ministry: Sheepdogs and Guardians of the Flock

Most of us live our day-to-day lives with some sense or level of security. For purposes of this article we define security as “the state of being protected or safe from harm.” 1 The majority of Americans wake up every morning assuming that something “bad” or “criminal” will most likely not happen to them. I make a very strong assertion when I suggest “the majority of Americans,” because that is an assumption in and of itself with no empirical data to offer. However, the reality is that most suburban and redeveloped urban centers have created a perception of safety and security to attract individuals and families to invest and live in these centers.

Who in their right mind would knowingly move to a crime-riddled part of town, or move their young family to an area known for violence? Irrespective of the socio-economic makeup or demographic, most people search for an environment that is stable, secure, and safe. As set out in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, it is instinctive in human nature to seek stability and security.2

The primary purpose of this article is to introduce a concept of roles that we accept, either consciously or unconsciously, relative to the ongoing battle against evil existing in our society. For purposes of this article we define evil as “causing harm or injury to someone.”3 The concept of roles introduced and discussed in this article is meant for each of us to take an introspective look into the role currently filled, and in turn critically think about the role we truly desire to fulfill. No one role is better than the other; however, certain responsibilities and consequences are inherent to each. The secondary purpose of this article is for leaders and contributors within ministries to view society through the prism of these roles, and to raise awareness of the real evils that can harm, hurt, or potentially lead to a deadly outcome of those served through our ministries. With the idea of security as earlier defined at the forefront of your mind, let us transition to the ministry environments of our communities of faith. So we ask the question, are you a Sheep or a Sheepdog?

Sheep, Sheepdogs, and Wolves

Former West Point psychology professor and one of the world’s foremost experts in the field of human aggression and the roots of violence and violent crime, LtCol (Ret.) Dave Grossman sets forth the premise that within society we fall into three categories of human behavior relative to violence and violent acts4: Sheep, Sheepdogs, and Wolves.

We will not spend much time on the Wolves because we will assume that Wolves as defined by Grossman are not actively involved in your community of faith. Wolves represent the evil men and/or women in this world who are capable of extremely evil deeds, and look to feed on the Sheep without mercy. It is incomprehensible that a “Wolf” would exist within your community of faith, as a “Wolf’s” characteristics are incompatible with the core values of individuals serving in a ministry role. This leaves us two types of roles to discuss: Sheep and Sheepdogs.

A paradox exists in American society relative to increased violent crime rates and the fact that violence is still relatively rare. “Some estimates say that two million Americans are victims of violent crimes every year,” which is a staggering number; however, there are now over 300 million Americans, which means “that the odds of being a victim of violent crime is considerably less than one in a hundred on any given year.”5 To take the inconsistency a step further, many violent crimes are committed by repeat offenders, which actually brings the number of violent citizens to less than two million. Grossman attributes this rarity of violence to the fact that “most citizens are kind, decent people who are not capable of hurting each other, except by accident or under extreme provocation.”6 In essence he suggests that most people are Sheep.

The term “Sheep” is not to be looked at by us as condescending or belittling. It is a role that describes the individual who is kind, gentle, and peaceful.7 Sheep live and operate within a predictable routine of life that rarely positions them into situations where they have to encounter or interact with evil persons in their day-to-day activities. Sheep are rarely forced to make hard and tough decisions when it comes to life and death or good versus evil. “When faced with conflict, they generally try to do the right thing, avoid making waves, and demonstrate pro-social behavior.”8 Sheep are your typical and positive contributors to society who depend on someone else to protect their physical interests on a daily basis. Their security relies heavily on the police, military, or some other authoritative force.

Those whom the Sheep depend upon to protect their interests are defined as “Sheepdogs.” Sheepdogs are the protectors of society. Much like a livestock guardian dog, the role of a societal Sheepdog is to protect the flock. Sheepdogs live among the flock, but are unique and set apart in their predisposition to “vigilantly watch for evil Wolves.”9 Sheepdogs are always on the perimeter “sniffing around, checking the breeze, barking at things that go bump in the night, and yearning for a righteous battle.”10 Sheepdogs have a mindset that pulls them towards dangerous situations when most would flee.

Their deep inherent nature is to protect. In our society the typical Sheepdogs that come to any mind are law enforcement officers and members of the military. Their professions require them to be Sheepdogs, but what about the Sheepdogs who do not wear a law enforcement or military uniform? Guardian Sheepdogs exist within society, as anyone may actively choose the protector role.

Unlike the Sheep, Sheepdogs, and Wolves born in nature, you as an individual can serve in whatever capacity
you desire. As Grossman states, “it is a conscious, moral decision” as to which role you choose. It can evolve
over time from Sheep to Sheepdog, and vice versa. The personal decision of our role and impact to the security of our ministries lies within the understanding of which role we elect to accept. How can we protect our flock if there are no Sheepdogs to fend off the Wolves or prevent the Wolves from attacking? Is it realistic to expect everyone to serve as a protector? Most likely not. Understanding who the Sheep and Sheepdogs are within ministry will allow leaders to best shape the conditions for overall security of the ministry and those we serve. This security is critical, as violence towards ministries has risen over the recent past, and a significant decrease does not appear imminent if current trends are sustained.

Violence Towards Ministries

Data collected from January of 1999 to February of 2014 shows the total number of Deadly Force Incidents (DFIs) at Faith Based Organizations in the United States as 792. Over 75 percent of these reported DFIs have occurred since 2009, reflecting an exponential increase over the last six years. DFIs in these cases include abductions, attacks, suspicious deaths, suicides, and deadly force intervention/protection.11 Incidents of violence range from disputes related to infidelity of pastors with congregants to workplace violence, robbery of churches, and confirmed mental illness. Numerous reasons lead to violence at Faith Based Organizations, but the major takeaway is that violence has occurred and it has increased at an alarming rate.

As partners in ministry, we must be mentally and physically prepared for the inevitable encounter of violence in our ministry environment. Leaders must take appropriate actions to set the conditions for the safety and security of those within their ministries and those whom they serve. This leads to the secondary purpose of this article. Now that awareness has been raised to the fact that our ministries are not immune from the consequences of a broken and fallen world, what are the measures that need to be taken to protect our flock?

A first logical step would be to identify the Sheepdogs within your ministry. If you conclude none exist, then it is incumbent they be identified and given the tools appropriate to their role. It is not uncommon to see hired law enforcement at a Sunday morning worship service across our nation’s churches. The reality is that churches, faith based organizations, and ministries that serve our communities will most likely have protectors within the core group. It is just a matter of identifying those protectors and asking them to actively serve in that role. Remember that Sheepdogs will instinctively protect, but they will not be able to do so if they are not identified, assigned and present.

There are distinct approaches that can be taken for the implementation of a security plan, and there are many organizations, both public and private, that can meet those needs; however, the foundational principles that lead to an increased level of security begin with individual actions that result in a corporate mindset. If you choose to be a Sheep, just understand the consequences of that choice. If that is your choice, position yourself to situations where the probability of having to make a decision in a dangerous or precarious security event is significantly low. If you choose to be a Sheepdog, understand the responsibility that choice demands. Always be alert, prepared and ready to protect the Sheep around you while acknowledging the fact that you are knowingly placing yourself in the role of protecting the Sheep from the evil and dangerous actions of the Wolves.

Understand these roles to best protect your ministry. Are you prepared to be a Guardian of the Flock?

About David Moran

David Moran serves as President of Evocati Security Services, Ltd., a Moran Enterprises company, and continues to serve as an infantry officer in the United States Marine Corps Reserve. He is a licensed Security Consultant and Concealed Handgun License Instructor with the State of Texas. He can be reached for any security related consulting or training at davidmoran@moranenterprises.com or 281-893-1987.

Security Consulting and You

Whether you believe technology has made our lives safer or made our lives less safe, it is clear that security consulting is as important as ever. Evocati is an advocate of personal protection and recommends a security consulting session before any investment on security solutions can take place. After all, knowing the laws can be the difference between feeling safe and being safe.

If you wish to install cameras around your home, motion sensors in your home, and/or have your home guarded all hours of the day, there must be consultation. Here’s what security consulting can do for you:

– Emergency Response
– Enhanced Protection Specialists
– Personal Protection
– Security Assessments

  • Threat Assessment
  • Vulnerability Assessment
  • Critical Infrastructure Assessment

– Security Plan Formulation & Implementation

– Special Event Security

– Training Advisory

Remember, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having the desire to “do it yourself”. We encourage that you do, however, we also recommend speaking with experts first before making a decision on equipment, costs, and total protection provided. Speak with our experienced security professionals to secure your home, office, or community.

Entering Restricted Cyberspace With Caution

Parental Control has been a hot topic in recent years. In fact, the debate has grown so much that child-friendly computer software/browsers have been created and begun beta testing trials. We recently learned that a 13-year-old girl in Montgomery County was arrested for making threats to harm an entire town on Facebook. Such threats have become all but uncommon with engines like social networking platforms that are not monitored effectively.

It is important to know what options you have available to prevent such unfortunate situations from taking place. Sometimes it is difficult to stop things like this from happening but knowing where to look can greatly minimize the end results. If you thought television parental controls were tough (but fair) wait until you see these:

Child-Friendly Software
New software (relatively inexpensive in most cases) has minimized the number of things you can actually do on the computer. This type of software is tailored to educate its users on the programs contained in the hard-drive. You know which ones we are talking about, the ones many of us don’t touch even though we’ve had them at our disposal since its purchase.

Restricted Browsers
Although many of these browsers are still in beta-testing modes, they show remarkable promise. These type of browsers limit the number of things you can do when searching or browsing the web. Strict settings are in place to prevent information from being accidentally leaked or purposely obtained. If a child attempts to change the settings, the computer will ask the user if they have administrator privileges. Set your settings to make sure you (the administrator) are asked for permission before any change is made.

You
The average teen Facebook user has a family member (usually one that lives in the same home) as a “friend” on the website. Use this to your advantage! As a parent give your child the freedom to browse online but speak with them about appropriate online behavior while effectively monitoring their experience. You are the best defense mechanism!

Always Serving, Meeting Needs

Evocati has a network of commissioned and non-commissioned officers that are needed depending on clients’ requirements. However, there are projects that require the assistance of active off-duty law enforcement officers. As of last week, Evocati Security Services has gathered a team of law enforcement officers to secure properties around the City of Houston.

These opportunities not only help provide a second source of income for struggling law enforcement families, but also help keep our communities safe. In cases where there needs to be more individualized attention given to a client, such as a celebrity, politician, or high profile personage; Evocati also has Personal Protection Officers readily available. No matter what your needs, our security force team can serve your organizational goals!

If you are interested in our comprehensive security solutions, please contact info@essintegrity.com | 281.893.1987.

Protecting Communities

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Evocati is proud to announce a partnership with CF Lane Property Management group to offer operating security forces at residential units. CFLane manages almost 200 properties in 16 states, currently Evocati will be securing premises all around Houston. Evocati Security Officers initialized security guard services primarily at Pines of Westbury, Park Texas, Las Palmas; and within a few weeks will continue to branch operations to other residential areas.

As of 2013, Evocati Security Services has offered Security Guard Services; with armed and unarmed officers on staff. If you are interested in our comprehensive security solutions, please contact info@essintegrity.com | 281.893.1987.

CHL Participants on Their Way to Further Development!

Congratulations to the new Qualified Concealed Handgun Licensed holders that graduated June 22, 2014! This group spent their Sunday embracing the responsibility of owning a weapon by familiarizing themselves with the basic principles of holding, maintaining, and learning how to properly shoot a weapon. Then, they applied their skills at the gun range once they had a well-versed overview of Texas Concealed Handgun Laws. Additionally, these individuals were provided a synopsis on how to critically evaluate a potentially life-threatening situation and apply their combined knowledge of Texas laws and proper execution of a firearm.

For a personalized, private Concealed Handgun seminar that can be a shared bonding experience, contact David Moran at: 281.893.1987 | info@essintegrity.com.

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