It has happened again. A mass murder in a church building. It seems too recent that nine worshipers were murdered during a church service at the Emanuel AME church in Charleston, SC. That was on June 17, 2015.
This past Sunday, 26 people were killed during a worship service at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. It should be abundantly clear now that not even the local church is off limits to the massacres that continue to haunt our country. The question is, how can we make the church building a safe place?
Our places of worship are in an extremely vulnerable position. One, the church must continue to be the church. That is, she must be open to strangers coming inside to seek the Lord. Two, the local church building is among the softest of soft targets for acts of violence. We worship on the premise that the house of God is a safe place, and we should be one hundred percent focused on God. But it is incumbent upon us to heed the reality of our times.
The motives between the two mass murders mentioned above were different. In the Charleston murders, the shooter Dylann Roof was a white supremacist. The shootings were racially motivated. In the recent tragedy in Texas, shooter Devin Kelley had other motives. So far, we know he had a history of domestic violence. Based on his past, he should not have been able to buy the gun he used to carry out his diabolical act, authorities say.
Perhaps the next massacre at a church building, and there is no reason to believe there won’t be others, will stem from some other motive—mental illness, terrorism, etc.
But regardless of the motives for such horrific events in our places of worship, innocent people are being murdered at a place where they come to worship God. Those who commit such acts, even if they are mentally deranged, must be regarded as wolves aimed at devouring the sheep. Pastors and church leaders must play the role of shepherds, intent on keeping the sheepfold safe.
No perfect solution exists. We can’t make the church building a completely safe place these days. But we can do things to make it a safer place than it currently is. We should all pray to cover the house of God with divine protection. That’s always an effective measure. But that’s not enough. We need to implement effective physical security and monitoring measures. Those who attend our local churches need to feel that church leaders value their safety.
How times have changed. In America, there was a time when we didn’t have to talk about and address the need to make the church building a safe place. It was inherently safe because our places of worship were regarded as off limits to mass murder. But gone are the days. No place where people assemble is exempt from gruesome acts of violence these days.
[Let us all be diligent to pray for the town of Sutherland Springs, TX; First Baptist Church there, and the many families of the victims who were murdered or injured by this heinous act.]
Copyright © 2017 by Frank King. All rights reserved.