Over this past weekend, a gunman opened fire at Club Q in Colorado Springs less than a mile from our church, Vanguard Church, which has been in existence in the heart of Colorado Springs for the past 25 ½ years.
Club Q was hosting a transgender night when the gunfire occurred.
Just two blocks away and nine hours later, our church hosted its regular Sunday morning worship services.
During the 9 am service, we had people in our church who were not present for the service, but attending online, let us know that they had friends in that club who were wounded and hurt by this gunman.
What does a church do in this situation? Do we stand up against the things that occurred at this Club and let our congregation and online community know that we don’t approve and that the Bible explicitly stands against these matters of morality? Do we ignore the broken hearts surrounded by this event in our community?
Maybe there is a third option.
Christ commands His church to “Grieve with those who grieve” (Romans 12:15).
I don’t know what it is like to lose a loved one in these circumstances, but I do know what it is like to lose a loved one instantly at the hands of a drunk driver.
I know what it feels like to talk to your loved one and then hours later realize they are gone.
In the sensitive moments soon after a tragedy, it is important we remember as churches we exist to live out the mission of Jesus to seek and save that which is lost. The best way to do so is to relate to our fellow image-bearers through the universal language we can all relate to; namely, pain.
I have never met anyone who doesn’t have pain in their life. Pain will remain true for all of us throughout our lives whether we come to Christ or not.
If we begin with the universal language of pain, we will find the right balance between love and truth.
When tragedy strikes a community, the question of “why this occurred” is not always the best one to ask. This question usually takes a long time to unravel and by the time it does the moment has passed. It is important that when a tragedy strikes a community, we immediately ask the question, “How can we care?”
We live in a careless world.
We watch the news, decipher the details, draw a conclusion, and make a judgment. And rarely is it accurate. It is the same thing the world does to the Church. But we, the Church, should be different. We should be slow to speak and quick to care.
When tragedy strikes in your community and around your local church, mobilize your people to pray.
Challenge them to suspend the dialogue in their head and refuse to pass premature judgment on the matter so that the grace and compassion of Christ can manifest themselves in and through your community.
We took time in each of our services to acknowledge what had occurred. We invited our congregation to join in a corporate time of prayer. We asked the Lord to give comfort to the brokenhearted and all who were impacted by this sorrowful situation.
Christ commands us to grieve with those who grieve, not just those who agree with us, but with all the world. He is the Suffering Servant. He is the Savior of all humanity. The Bible says that God is near the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18).
I realize that politics and the press already got involved in the process. But as churches, can we seize the moment to rise above the political fray and focus on God’s glory instead? Can we offer up prayers for those who are hurting? Maybe if the opportunity presents itself, we can step in to bring healing where so much suffering has already taken place.
That’s what Jesus would do.