Decision Decks: Church Safety Training in Your Pocket

The importance of church safety training simply can’t be understated. But, if we’re being honest, a lot of teams simply don’t have the budget to get as much training as they’d like. And we all know that getting everyone in the same place at the same time can be like herding cats. This is exactly the sort of obstacles that Decision Decks address. Let’s take a look at what they are and how they do it.

What Are Decision Decks?

Decision Decks are decks of cards that can be used for training purposes by individuals or groups. Each deck has an overarching theme, like medical response, suspicious behavior or conflict de-escalation. The deck has 60 cards each with a brief scenario on them, and that scenario is the basis of your discussion. Simple enough, right?

Hearing this, you probably expect to flip the card over and see the answer on the back. Nope. Decision Decks author Simon Osamoh is experienced enough to know that the answer isn’t the same for every church. The Decision Decks are to stimulate discussion and get those creative juices flowing so that you and your team can collaborate to find the best answer for the context of your church.

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How Did They Develop?

The inspiration for Decision Decks came from a conversation Simon was having with a church safety director. The director was trying to come up with a way to gauge team members’ understanding of SOPs and to see what their judgement is like when faced with something different. After finding a manufacturer to handle the cards, Osamoh put out the first series. When he saw how well-received the decks were, he decided to expand to a series.

But Can It Work?

Can these simple cards really help? Absolutely. They can help on a couple of levels.

  • First, it can get you thinking about situations you haven’t thought of yet. It’s not uncommon to hear “Well that won’t happen here”, so people fail to plan for it. That’s a problem.
  • Second, it invites more points of view. As experienced as I am, I don’t know everything. When you get more life experiences in the mix, the conversation can be educational.
  • Lastly, team members engage more. They are more likely to ask questions for clarity than if it was just an email or reading a SOP. And I assure you, nothing will make them feel more heard as seeing a procedure or policy change and improve because of something they brought up.

What Topics Are Covered?

Currently, there are 6 different Decision Decks available:

  • Conflict De-escalation
  • Medical Response
  • Crisis Intervention
  • Safety Team Response
  • Suspicious Behavior
  • Threat Assessment

At the time of this article being written, there are 2 other decks being finalized. One will focus on active assailant scenarios and the other will address emergency planning.

Beyond The Talking

The exercise of using Decision Decks can extend beyond just good conversation and a little learning. There is a truism in tactical training that says:

“The Body Can’t Go Where The Mind Hasn’t”

These scenarios can start having members think through some of the parts of their response they may not have considered yet. By thinking through things ahead of time, the shock of the actual event can be lessened. church safety training has to always be moving forward. Granted, this is a baby step in what we would call ‘stress inoculation’, but it is still a step in that direction.

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Some Suggested Guardrails

A free flow of ideas is fun, but we’ve all been in a conversation where the “what-if” train went completely off the track, crashed into a ravine and exploded.

Nearly every group has the “what-if” guy. And “what-ifs” can be helpful, as long as they stay on track. Yes, it’s possible that ISIS will show up at your church this weekend and pump the Ebola virus through your air conditioning vents, but the odds of it are pretty stinking low. So, let’s not follow that bunny trail when a card gives you a scenario about someone seeing smoke.

Having someone be the “cardmaster” may be a good practice. That doesn’t mean they have to have all of the answers. It just means that they keep the discussions on task and help to ensure that everyone can be heard, not just the more assertive personalities in the room.

How Do You Get Decision Decks?

Getting the decks for yourself is super easy, barely an inconvenience. They’re available on Amazon. How can that get any easier? Here, I’ll give you links:

Conflict De-Escalation Deck

Suspicious Behavior Deck

Threat Assessment Deck

Church Safety Team Deck

Crisis Intervention Deck

Medical Response Deck

All 6 Decks Package

And, if that wasn’t enough, there is an app available for both Apple and Android phones. Just search for “Decision Decks” on Google Play or wherever you Apple cultists get your apps from.

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Other Uses

Osamoh has heard back from churches that use the Decision Deck scenarios as part of their interview process for candidates. Again, it’s not necessarily about knowing the “right” answer but gauging their judgment and thought process when confronted with a situation they haven’t been given the answer to. Another church used the different decks to facilitate tabletop exercises.

Some Disclosure

For the sake of transparency, I should mention a few things. Simon Osamoh is my friend and something of a mentor in the business aspect of what I do. And he has sent drafts of the scenarios to me before they were sent to production for me to review. (I think that speaks highly of his own teachability in recognizing that he doesn’t know everything either) I do not have any financial interest here, but I did want to be forthcoming with the relationship.

The Wrap Up

In the Army, we had the phrase “hip pocket training”. That carried over for me into my law enforcement career. What it means is to always be ready to go with some training that could be done anywhere when you have 10-15 minutes. No PowerPoints or hand-outs. Just some quick information. Decision Decks shine in that niche.

How could you use them? Sure, you could spend the 15 minutes before your “shift” starts talking about fishing or politics. Or you could discuss one of the scenarios. Not only do you learn, but it starts getting your head in the game. Or these could be used as icebreakers at other training. Want to really have fun? Use them with your church staff or have other teams participate. That way, when something truly does happen, they know what to expect from the safety team and how they can support that.

Church safety training doesn’t have to be expensive or fancy to be effective. Take a look at the Decision Decks and give one a try. I’m betting you’ll be glad you did.

If you would like to talk about having church safety training at your House of Worship, contact us. We’d be happy to learn about your situation and see how we can help.

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