Safety Guide

Record Activities

Record your activities from the time you leave your car to the time you get back to it. Having footage from your outing may help you redress hostile actions and account for your behavior. For that same reason, be sure not to do or say anything that you do not want recorded. Pending on your location and group size, more than one camera may be necessary. If possible, the recordings should be live-streamed to Facebook or Youtube, which backs up your footage in the event that your equipment is damaged or confiscated. External microphones may be required for capturing audio at far distances from the camera. Record your videos in a high resolution. For equipment recommendations and assistance, check out the Resources page. Uploaded recordings can serve the secondary purpose of encouraging others, raising awareness of our activities, and providing examples of approaches to sidewalk ministry.

Watch for Cars

Not everyone driving by is friendly to the church's presence at places of death. Given the proximity of our position to the road, be careful of drivers with hostile intent. If you are on a sidewalk, consider standing further from the edge of the street and avoid keeping your back to the road for extended periods of time. When you cannot see cars, have a member of the group look out for you. Do not stand in the driveway. 

Observe People in Parking Lot

Observe the disposition of everyone who is present in the parking lot. People will often come over to talk and receive material, which is what we want to happen. However, some individuals in the parking lot may desire to intimidate you, waste your material, or even harm you physically. If they appear agitated or express ill intent, take steps to protect yourself and your group in case they come over.

Go in Groups

Whenever possible, do sidewalk ministry in groups of two or more, whenever possible. Other people can provide a witness to your actions and the actions of those around you; you can do the same for them. You can also keep an eye out for each other's safety, especially when one person is engaged in conversation. If you are looking to join a sidewalk event, consider joining an event with fewer people to increase their numbers. However, too many people on the sidewalk may decrease the likelihood of "patients" coming over to talk. A general rule of thumb is to keep the group size under ten adults. Mixed gender groups are ideal, but for accountability purposes, it is recommended that there be at least three members in mixed gender group. When there are opportunities for conversations with "patients," men may choose to take the lead in dialogue with men, and women with women.

Be Cognizant of Passerby's

As it is for cars, the same is true for bikers, joggers, walkers, and other passerby's who may exhibit hostility. Be aware of their presence and try gauging their temperament before they get too close. Feel free to engage with them, but don't let them distract you from the primary focus of sidewalk ministry (i.e., reaching women considering abortion). Be careful not to block the sidewalk with our equipment or signs.

Carry Pepper Spray or Another Self-Defense Tool

Avoid potentially dangerous confrontations whenever possible. If you have the opportunity, help your group quickly leave the scene; it is better to run than to fight. If a confrontation is unavoidable, urge the perpetrator to stop by presenting a self-dense tool. Carrying a simple self-defense tool (like pepper spray) is recommended. If you are carrying pepper spray (or any other weapon), be sure to understand the laws related to its use and do not employ the tool prematurely. Always attempt to deescalate the situation, talking calmly and firmly. Make sure you care for other members in your group. Leave and call the police if at any point you feel in danger.

Police Encounters

The local police department should be properly notified prior to any sidewalk event. However, if the police are called out, different courses of action are available. The first and best option is to peacefully cooperate. We desire to build good relationships with our police departments. Kindly complying (even if it is not required) can help foster these relationships. For this reason, it is also recommended that you carry your ID with you. If you are concerned about presenting your ID or do not desire to comply, other responses may be available to you. Consult the Alliance Defending Freedom's "A Legal Guide for Sidewalk Counselors" on the Resources page for more information.

“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves."

- Matt. 10:16

"A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger."

- Prov. 15:1