McKINNEY, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – From Sutherland Springs, Texas to now White Settlement, it is an ugly truth that no place is immune to concerns about security.
“We’d already gone down the trail of we’re not going to put our heads in the sand and say this could never happen to us, because of course, it could happen to us,” says Crosspoint Church Elder Paul Cobb. “It could happen to anybody.”
Cobb says it wasn’t a church shooting but a relatively petty crime — car break-ins in the parking lot — that prompted church leadership to begin taking a serious look at security and he says they were troubled by an alarming trend that more people were being murdered in places of worship than in schools.
And that was a decade ago.
“We went out to launch a security program and found their was none,” says Cobb. “So we had to build one.”
Using top-notch professionals as a resource (and realizing that their budget was not unlimited), Crosspoint’s church leadership began building highly trained security team in house.
“They are collectively called the “sheepdogs” as they help the great shepherd protect the flock,” says Cobb. “An intensely dedicated crew, not only to their ministry, but to their craft as well.”
He says the training covers everything from medical emergencies, to de-escalating family conflicts, to lost kids, spotting abused kids, and yes even armed gunmen.
“It’s their flocks, it’s their sheep. There’s no question of whether these people are going to respond. The challenge is can we give them the tools and the talent and the training and the tactics to be effective and efficient, and the answer is ‘yes’.”
So while the West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, and the church’s preparation for trouble, has other congregations now reviewing security plans, Cobb says he’s glad that Crosspoint Church began that process more than a decade ago and continues to build on it.
“Your church is a hospital for battered souls,” says Cobb. “And when you understand that hurting people hurts people, the miracle of it all is that we don’t have more incidents than we do.”
As many predominantly African-American congregations brought in the New Year with traditional “Watchnight” services, the Senior Pastor at Friendship West Baptist Church in Oak Cliff tells CBS 11, “We are going to pray for our faith communities that have experienced tragedy… and we will worship unafraid, knowing we have angels watching over us and trained officers and security.”
And leaders at Crosspoint Church are doing the same.
“We blend. We’re ushers, we’re greeters, we’re ministers first. We’re sheepdogs if the situation requires it.”