Greeters, ushers, ministers, teachers, and staff all share responsibility for the safety and security of the congregation. You are not expected to do it all yourself or act as a police officer or security guard, but you are expected to continuously observe people and the environment, assess the situation to see if there is danger, and respond appropriately. For some of our volunteers on Sunday morning, their challenge is to fulfill the dual roles of greeter and guardian.
These two approaches (greeter and guardian) must be balanced between the need to provide a feeling of welcome and openness with being watchful and appropriately wary. Some ushers are so unconcerned or busy talking to their friends that they are rarely aware of what is happening around them. Meanwhile, others are so concerned that they are tense and on edge all the time.
You must be realistic about your congregational environment. When people gather for worship, things are rarely as organized as they might be in some other meetings:
People arrive early and late and in groups and alone.
Members and guests may roam around the lobby or wander down halls.
The lobby, or greeting area (if you have one), may be packed with people of all ages.
If there is more than one service, some people will arrive as others are leaving.
An usher’s post may be in the sanctuary and focused on seating people, or it may be at the front door or in the lobby, busy with greeting, conversing, and handing out materials. In either case, ushers may not be able to contact every guest.
The task for greeters and ushers is to keep these realities in mind as they look for even small ways to plan and prepare for an emergency. Our ushers and greeters must be knowledgeable. They need to know what to look for and what to do if they see something of concern. They do not need extensive training to be reasonably effective. Life experiences and some review and discussion will provide them with most of the knowledge they need.
Additional Sections for Ushers, Greeters, and Staff
- Safety Questions for Ushers and Greeters
- Deescalating Threatening Situations
- Alternatives to Calling the Police
- Building Safety and Security