110 – How can my church respond to tragedy at a distance? [Podcast]

Engaging and igniting the whole Body of Christ


Welcome to Season 3 of the Your Church Matters podcastIn this week’s episode, I’m sharing some reflections on how churches may respond to tragedy when it’s not in our community.  How can we engage and ignite the whole Body of Christ in joining hands across the world?



When tragedy strikes elsewhere

A couple of weeks ago it was racially motivated violence in Virginia.  This week it is Hurricane Harvey on the Gulf coast of Texas.  Who knows what and where it will be next?  We live in a world where tragedies happen frequently.

That brings some particular risks for churches that we must guard against:

  1. To be spiritual “sympathizers,” who only feel bad from a distance, but don’t believe they can really do anything.
  2. To be spiritual “huddlers,” who only think about our own needs.
  3. To be spiritual “doomsday-ers,” focusing only on the fulfillment of prophecies and “signs of the times” to the neglect of the amazing work of God that is going on in the world.
  4. To be spiritual “sunshine and daffodil-ers,” focusing only on things that make us feel good, to the neglect of the legitimate suffering in the world.
  5. To be spiritual “bandwagon-ers,” jumping from one need to the next and not truly engaging with anything.
  6.  To be spiritual “pseudo-prophets,” making proclamations on God’s behalf, rather than extending Christ’s compassion.

That list could get longer, but I’ll stop there.

So, what can we do to engage and ignite the whole Body of Christ?

  1. Remember that our congregation cannot BE the Body of Christ in its entirety. We are part of the Body that includes all the people of God in all places and expressions.
  2. Pray for God’s glory to be revealed through the Body of Christ. How God’s people respond in crisis often gives observers their strongest impression about Christianity.
  3. Don’t wait for a crisis to develop ongoing prayer and support partnerships. It is easier to mobilize people who are already engaged through systems that are already in place.
  4. Be wise in contributing material, financial, and manpower support.  Let trained first-responders do their work.  Send materials and financial support through established and reputable channels.  If you go to help, go to serve those who have boots on the ground and systems in place.
  5. After the initial crisis, there may be ongoing needs for months or years.  Stay connected.


What I loved about the church where I worshiped last Sunday

Church: FBC Argyle (Texas)

What I loved:

  • Formal greeting system
  • Informal greeting atmosphere


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*Special thanks to Keith Cooper (Guitar Music for intro)

*Special thanks to Nathan Woodward (Saxophone Music for outro)

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