Last Sunday, we were shocked by the tragic attack from an evil person on a defenseless church family in Sutherland Springs, just about an hour away from us. This attack, along with too many others in recent weeks, has left us shaken and unsure. Why do these tragedies happen? What can we do to make a difference in the face of such tragedy? How do we ensure the safety of those in our own church family?
Why do these tragedies happen?
A natural response is to try and assign blame for the evils that happen in our world. Is it the fault of our politicians? Is it a gun issue, a mental health issue, or a sin issue? Remember, it does no good to fix the blame when you should be fixing the problem! At the end of the day, we may never know the cause of these unspeakable tragedies. But we do have a promise from God that one day, He will wipe every tear from every eye. There will be no more suffering, or tears, or pain. Until then, we will continue to live in a broken, fallen world. As followers of Jesus, this should motivate us more than ever before to be focused on our mission to share God’s love, hope, and message of salvation through Jesus. It has never been more urgent! What we do together matters!
What can we do to make a difference?
When we hear about these senseless tragedies, it’s natural and good to grieve. My response has been a bit of nausea and some tears. God help us if we get so callous to this type of news that we stop feeling broken!
We also need to pray! Even though some in the media have criticized our prayers as being ineffective, we know that we need God’s power at work in our country now more than ever before! So, we are going to pray. Pray for the families and for the church in Sutherland Springs and all those believers in the area to rise up to be God’s hands and feet. We pray that somehow God will bring good out of the ashes of this heartbreak. God is an expert at turning losses into victories.
We cannot respond by hiding or avoiding gathering together. When we do that, terror and evil win. As tempting as it may be for some to isolate themselves out of fear, this is not the time to divide. It is time to come together. We need each other and the world needs us!
How do we ensure the safety of our church family?
Our goal is to have the safest places to worship in Hays County! We take the safety of those under our care very seriously. This includes everyone who walks through our doors. We have a long-standing policy of having a police officer on duty whenever we gather in groups of 200 or more. While some initially questioned the necessity of this policy when we started this many years ago, we know that it is imperative in our day. This is not a question of faith. It is an issue of safety for our family.
We also have many informed leaders from the parking lot to our children’s areas who are ready eyes and ears, equipped with radios, to communicate any needs or dangers that may arise. You will notice that since Texas gun carry laws changed at the beginning of 2017, we have regulation signs posted to inform people of our carry policy (concealed carry is permissible, open carry is not).
We are taking continued steps to increase our safety as we move forward. These steps will be taken in consultation with a local police officer who operates a church safety training program. We cannot afford to be relaxed about this when so much is at stake. We will be diligent to continue to create the best possible environments for people to experience a connection with Jesus! This includes our established creative, caring, come-as-you-are culture, as well as a proactive stance toward the protection and safety of everyone.
So, we will see you this Sunday. We will be prepared. And we will look forward to seeing God move once in again in powerful ways.