In the wake of the tragic church shooting in Texas, every congregation should ask, “What should we do?” The short answer: listen.
Violence is often the product of unexpressed anger and frustration. The greatest gift you can offer someone is to listen to them, even as they express emotions that are hard to hear. There are many stories of people walking into church when they’re hurting. When people are hurting, they have the capacity to hurt others. Listening to their story will go a long way towards defusing tense situations.
What happens if the situation escalates to violence? Should everyone carry guns to church? Only people with extensive training should carry. In crowded rooms, guns usually aren’t the best response.
If someone brandishes a weapon at church, try first to engage the person in conversation. Try to get the person to talk about their pain. If you can get them talking, alert someone to the situation so law enforcement can be contacted. Another person could then organize a group to tackle and subdue the attacker until law enforcement arrives.
Following violent events, we can choose to live in fear or faith. What shall we choose?