Why Churches Should Pay Attention to the Recent Shootings

The three recent high profile shootings illustrate a growing need for churches to assess their security strengths and weaknesses. The shooting of a high profile abortion doctor, the shooting of an army recruiter, and the attack at the National Holocaust Museum have one thing in common, namely, the physical manifestation of violence to substantiate an ideological belief.

In a world where the individual is celebrated, where the individual feels entitled, and where the individual has a message that must be heard, the individual seeking attention for his cause and to deliver shock, will strike a target that justifies his message and causes scrutiny by the media.

Today, it is as if anything is justifiable, as long as a person has a reason-any reason- to do it. The common thread in each attack is hatred of an ideology, hatred of a country, and hatred of a people. It does not matter where the violence will occur, as long as it is shocking and deemed newsworthy, the offender will act. The days where the church was deemed off limits and sacred by the most violent in our society, has become allowable.

Nothing is sacred. There are no violence free zones. Life has become cheap to those seeking to deliver a message.

In an attempt to make sense of it all, society immediately brands these types of offenders as extremists, terrorists, or as insane, and indeed, they may be. However, the fact remains, they choose to attack those they hate or those who view life differently than they do, and they are not afraid to attack wherever the are found.

Daily we have access to information where Christians are attacked, assaulted and killed. Attacks happen in villages, in village churches, and in the streets. Each attack has a different motive, but the end result is the same. People are robbed of their lives because of a belief system they have chosen.

Human beings like to believe bad things happen in other places or to larger organizations. Church leaders usually examine each incident and make a determination whether we believe that violence can visit our church. Do we have any abortion providers who attend our church?  The answer is probably not, so we don’t think we need to increase security. Are there any Jewish people in our church?  No, they attend a synagogue, so the news story doesn’t have an affect.  Will a madman enter our church and begin shooting our people?  We might respond by thinking that it only happens at mega-churches or churches in dangerous areas.

Many times we answer each question in the negative. We cannot convince ourselves that evil may visit our place of worship. We say, as do many others, that it cannot happen here.

The lesson of the last three shootings in only 9 days is that violence can and does happen anywhere and at anytime.  Where people exist that have a grudge, a need to act out, and do not mind taking innocent life, there is a possibility it can happen anywhere.  They are calculating enough to find a place where they may strike without resistance, and where the casualty rate might be the highest.

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