Russell Moore Exclusive: How to Pastor After the Shootings

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Greg Stier, founder of Dare2Share and a former pastor in Denver when the Columbine High School shooting happened, also says it’s important to take time to mourn. “There is a time to mourn, and this is it. We mourn for these teenagers. We mourn for their parents. We mourn for this school and the surviving teenagers and teachers who forever will be traumatized by these terrible events.”

In fact, Thomas McKenzie, Pastor of Church of the Redeemer in Nashville, Tennessee, suggests mourning is the key to healing:

“I don’t think we heal from tragedy. Instead, we grieve it. We acknowledge it, call it for what it is, wail, bemoan it, lament it. We hate it, and we feel that. And we get angry and sad, and tired. And we reflect, and feel compassion, and forgive. And then, in the next minute we do it all over again, often. I think at best we incorporate the pain, and that is a kind of healing. And perhaps we can take the pain and use it to do something good, so that we can have some redemption. But I don’t think we heal until we see our Savior face-to-face. So, I suppose my task is to make space for real emotion, for lament and suffering. And also to remind people that we don’t grieve as those who have no hope. That we still hope in the Resurrection and the Life of the world to come.”

God’s sovereignty is on the mind of Thomas Strong, senior pastor at Metairie Baptist Church in Metairie, Louisiana and Dean of Leavell College at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

In his church’s Wednesday night service, which took place the same day as the shooting, he talked about Isaiah 6, Isaiah’s vision and commission, and “reminded the church that when the world is shaking it is important to look up and still see that God is enthroned. Trust him even when it is very difficult to understand.”

Ronnie Floyd, Senior Pastor at Cross Church in Springdale, Arkansas, and President of the National Day of Prayer, doesn’t see an end to the groaning any time soon:

“There is a strong demonic attack on the next generation of America. Evil accomplished this horrendous attack. I will state this to our people on Sunday, plus I will call us to pray for the people involved in this Florida tragedy, and for our own schools in this region to have God’s shield of protection upon us.”

The terrible consequences of sin aren’t lost on Ben Brooks, pastor of Westside Oaks in Colorado Springs, Colorado: “As I look to Scripture, I see sin and evil as the roots of gun violence and mass murder. Jesus’ work on the cross, his resurrection and ascension are still the only solutions I know of. We’ve given our lives to being and making disciples who confront evil with the love and power of God.”

“I think God wants the church to be in the presence of the hurting,” Russell Moore concludes in his interview. As you minister to your congregation this weekend, Moore says, remind them of Jesus’ words: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Don’t skip or ignore the mourning—wade in and bear the burden of grief.

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Bob Ditmer
Bob Ditmer has worked in Christian media for more than 20 years including positions with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and Focus on the Family.