November 1, 2023
When Bad Things Happen Down the Street, How Do We Lead?
In this broken world, bad things can happen anywhere. How should we respond when it's close to home?
This past Sunday morning, I had just gotten up, and I decided to scroll through some news highlights. I hated to see that overnight there had been a local shooting in Indianapolis. 10 people shot. One person dead. Several guns found on the scene. It was a Halloween party of teens and young adults held in a business park area.
Then, I realized this awful event had taken place just a couple blocks from our family’s church.
I sent a couple text messages to check in with our Campus Pastor and a couple others. A little later, I pulled into church. As our church family gathered for worship services, local police and authorities continued to investigate the scene. You could see emergency lights down the street—the area was blocked off.
My heart broke for the people (several of them teens) and families involved.
My heart broke for our local communities made up of people who are dealing with so much brokenness—and the struggle, violence and hurt that results.
My mind jumped to what we as church leaders and pastors can do to lead well and communicate during these uncertain times. Here are a few thoughts.
Be aware of and pray through the news.
I’m not advocating that you spend hours watching local, national and world news. However, it’s important to be aware of the main stories all around us each day so that we can be sensitive and prayerful. I scroll through a couple chosen websites/apps or watch a few things on TV to see some news highlights each day. As I scroll or watch, I’m praying. Lord, have mercy. Lord, help these people and situations. Lord, help me/us know how to respond.
Discern and guide your people.
It’s tempting to wish for better days. To care so deeply but not know how to share about it. Sometimes it seems best to sweep the hard stuff under the proverbial rug. Yet this is a season to discern what is needed and guide our staff teams and congregations well. What is going on in our world? What is going on locally? Let’s discern what is needed and help people process and navigate through it. What you model will help your staff and congregations know what to say and do with their own families, coworkers, neighbors and others. In these challenging times, it’s important to walk with people to help them know: we’re aware, we care and we’re praying and trusting our sovereign God together every day.
This past Sunday, I really appreciated that our Campus Pastor paused in each service to acknowledge that a very difficult situation had occurred just down the road. We prayed for those involved and our local community.
Follow up on the headlines. Take action.
What can we do to serve in our communities? There is hardship, brokenness and grief, so where can we offer support and help? Many churches, small groups and individuals are asking their local officials, community leaders, schools and other mission-focused groups - what do you need? What can our church do to make a difference with you and with the people in our community? How can we partner? What incredible questions! Let’s keep doing this and acting on it.
One last, related thought: we have to be prepared every day to keep the people at our churches safe and secure.
What is your plan for safety and security throughout the week, with every event/activity and with weekend services? No matter where you're located and what size your church is, this is such an important area to have strong leadership with and to take action.
What thoughts or suggestions would you add to my list above as you navigate difficult news events and happenings? I’d love to hear from you to continue growing and encouraging one another.
We're praying with you as you lead at your church!