People Are Hurting. How Is Your Church Helping?

People Are Hurting. How Is Your Church Helping?

October 2, 2017 by

Too often, it seems, I open my social media feed to tragedy.

Kyrie eleison. Christe eleison.

Lord have mercy. Christ have mercy.

The words of “Sunday Bloody Sunday” by U2 come to mind:

I can’t believe the news today
Oh, I can’t close my eyes
And make it go away
How long
How long must we sing this song?

Every day there is renewed trauma.

Some are obvious tragedies with accompanying media attention—Las Vegas, Orlando, Paris, and on and on and on. But others are daily tragedies that never make the news—domestic abuse, human trafficking, drug addiction, homelessness, disease, death.

People are hurting. How is your church helping?

What Do We Do?

What does the church do in the face of such hopelessness?

We do what we do: We are a voice of hope in the midst of the darkness.

We will be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. We will share with the Lord’s people who are in need. We will mourn with those who mourn. We will not be overcome by evil, but will overcome evil with good. (Romans 12)

The world is hurting right now, as it always is. This is the church’s opportunity to be the church. We can hurt with those who are hurting, we can pray for those who need prayer, we can comfort the afflicted and offer healing to the brokenhearted.

Your church has a voice. Use it.

Let’s Get Practical

OK, what does that actually mean?

1. Share Words of Comfort

Your church has social media channels. You can speak to the current tragedy and offer prayer, solidarity, lament, and ultimately hope. Your pastor is probably well trained to offer a word of comfort in difficult times. 

Staying silent in the face of suffering will speak volumes. And you’re leaving it up to the community to decipher that message of silence, whether it means you’re uncaring and cold or just clueless and aloof. However it’s interpreted, it will likely not reflect well on your church.

If you don’t have a channel to respond to tragedy, create one.

2. Be Sincere

It can be easy to throw out random words of comfort, quote a Bible verse, and slap a new city in your #PrayForCity graphic. But you have to be genuine.

How does anyone know if you’re sincere or if you’re just a callused church employee going through the motions? This is hard. But I think people can tell. Authenticity rings true.

Note: If you’re having to share words of comfort and you feel insincere, take some time to pray. If you still feel jaded, use someone else’s words. You can set up the Facebook post, but ask your pastor for the words to say.

Perhaps the real key here is not to minimize pain and loss with a cheap altar call.

3. Take Action

I’m a writer, so I love words. But words can be easy. They don’t cost much. If your church wants to offer more, you need to take action.

“What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” James 2:14-17

Consider how your church can act.

If you’re close to tragedy, this may be immediate and dramatic: giving blood, opening your doors to offer refuge, serving in some way. If it’s an ongoing tragedy, such as crime-ravaged streets or the opioid epidemic, this may mean more strategic, long-term action: mentoring youth, marching for peace, establishing ministries. If you’re far from tragedy, it may mean finding ways to overcome that distance: prayer services, fundraisers, and if it’s appropriate (such as in the aftermath of hurricanes), sending mission teams.

Maybe this isn’t the moment for your church to act. That’s OK. You can always support the actions of others, pointing to churches who have been called to act and helping them in any way you can.

How Can Your Church Help?

People are hurting. How is your church helping?

Find a way that works for your congregation and be the body of Christ.

This compline prayer often comes to me in times of pain and hurt:

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or
weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who
sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless
the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the
joyous; and all for your love’s sake. Amen.

Post By:

Kevin D. Hendricks

When Kevin isn't busy as the editor of Church Marketing Sucks, he runs his own writing and editing company, Monkey Outta Nowhere. Kevin has been blogging since 1998, runs the hyperlocal site West St. Paul Reader, and has published several books, including 137 Books in One Year: How to Fall in Love With Reading, The Stephanies and all of our church communication books.
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