Did the Church fail?

This week tragedy struck our community. It is a reminder of the evilness that can exist in the heart of man. Many of us have more questions than we do answers. Our hearts are heavy. We grieve for the families involved and for the things our first responders had to endure as they responded.

My newsfeed has been filled with the heaviness we all feel, especially the wives of our first responders and what their loved ones saw that tragic evening.

You don’t just wake up, and those things go away. They stay with you. That is why we need to pray for our first responders, who run into situations that the rest of us run from. I can not imagine. Pray for them. Thank them. Encourage them when you see them. They carry things with them long after the accidents and events are no longer in our newsfeeds.

As all this swirls in my head, I began wrestling with the question, “Did the church fail in this situation?”

Let me explain …

For Charles Slacks, why were there not people in his life that he could have turned to and processed things? Maybe there was. My wife reminded me last night, “You have to be willing to let people help you and be there for you.” Maybe people tried, but he wouldn’t entertain it. We will never know.

I also wonder, “Where was his band of brothers? His buddy? Somebody, anybody that he could have called or met with to vent, scream, process, wrestle out loud with? For someone to be present on the other side of him to listen without trying to fix him or the situation.

That reminds me, we also need to pray for our men and women in the military. The stress, the pace they keep, the sacrifices their families make to defend the freedoms we often take for granted and for the things they see and endure that are unimaginable as well. The PTSD from the trauma they’ve endured. They need safe spaces. They need people to love and encourage them. They need pastors, believers and counselors to be present in their lives.

I’ve said for years, “It is what the church doesn’t talk about that its people struggle with the most.” Therefore it is time to strike up some conversations, to lean in, listen, learn, love and let God do what we can’t.

I also know those who say they follow Jesus aren’t always the most loving and compassionate either. That is why I wrestled with “Did the church fail?” Did we miss the mark? Miss the opportunity to show up and be the hands and feet of Jesus? Did we miss the opportunity to show the mercy and comfort that God has shown up (2 Corinthians 1:3-7)? To show up and be present? To be a shoulder to lean on, a hand to hold?

So, here are some thoughts on how I think we can move forward in love and compassion.

We need …

— less judgment and more curiosity.

— to meet people where they are.

— to listen more and try to fix less.

— authentic relationships with those around us. That takes sacrifice, intentionality, grace, regularly checking in on one another, patience, being available, etc.

— we need to love like Jesus!

Jesus set the standard when he said, “By THIS all people will know that you are my disciples …” By what? Our buildings? Programs? Knowledge of Scripture? Where we go to church? How much we give? NO! He said that people would know we are His disciples “if you have LOVE for one another.” (John 13:35)

I don’t have all the answers, but I know our neighbors need us! They need us to show up, love, encourage, pray, listen, learn, grow and, most importantly, reflect the Jesus we say we follow.

Let’s go be the Church and show the love of Christ to those the Lord places in our paths this week!