A Christian Response to School Shootings
Updated: May 19, 2018
Today another school shooting took place in Santa Fe, Texas. This shooting comes merely 2 months after the terrible incident in Parkland, Florida where 17 people were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Unfortunately, such heinous actions like school shootings seem more and more common each year. As a youth minister this grieves me. Every time I hear a story like this my heart breaks for our students. I can’t help but to wonder if there is something, anything that we can do to help prevent future atrocities like this.
I believe there is, and I want to encourage our church with several action steps we can take to help make a difference in our community.
1. Have a strong FAMILY UNIT
Deuteronomy 6:4-6 tells us that discipleship starts in the family. When the family breaks down so does society. Fight for your family! Parents, YOU are the primary spiritual leader of your family. Not your pastor, not your youth pastor.
In his book Hurt 2.0, author Chap Clark says,
Adolescents have suffered the loss of the safe relationships and intimate settings that served as the primary nurturing community for those traveling the path from child to adult. The most obvious example of this is in the family. The postmodern family is often so concerned about the needs, struggles, and issues of parents that the emotional and developmental needs of the children go largely unmet….The loss of meaningful relationships with adults has been the most devastating to developing adolescents.
Parents, love your kids. Pay attention to them. Put down your smart phone and have a conversation with your child. When parents don't have strong relationships with their kids or are absent altogether, kids naturally look to other adults as a role model. I see this in my own youth group with students from broken homes who get moral guidance from their favorite TV Star, rapper, or Youtuber. I'm a strong advocate that the solution to school violence lies within fixing our families, not just our laws.
Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it. -Proverbs 22:6
This verse isn't a guarantee, but rather a general truth. When parents forsake their kids, the kids are almost guaranteed to make destructive decisions.
2. Stay connected to CHURCH
"And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” -Hebrews 10:24-25
From a Christian Worldview, church is the place where believers can love one another (1 John 4:12), encourage one another (Hebrews 3:13), “spur” one another to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24), serve one another (Galatians 5:13), instruct one another (Romans 15:14), honor one another (Romans 12:10), and be kind and compassionate to one another (Ephesians 4:32).
Students are connected to a positive community that they might not normally get when they attend church. If you read the background information on the recent school shooters you’ll notice that most of them had one thing in common. They were isolated. For a student who is struggling with depression, self-esteem, self-harm, or violent thoughts, isolation is where those thoughts snowball which may lead to the student acting upon those thoughts. In his book Bowling Alone, author Robert Putnam says,
The absence of positive norms, community associations, and informal adult friendship and kin networks leaves kids to their own devices. It is in such settings that youths are most likely to act on shortsighted or self-destructive impulses.
Isolated thoughts lead to isolated actions. Christians should be the leading example of what positive, Christ-like community looks like. Consider the words of Paul in Philippians 2:
Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. -Philippians 2:4-7
What would happen if the Church made this a priority in our lives? What would change in our homes, workplaces, and schools if we truly thought of others as more important than ourselves. To be Christ-like is to imitate and be like Jesus. Jesus set the example of humility and selfless service by going to the cross on our behalf, taking the full punishment of sin that we deserved.
3. Be a MENTOR
Many schools like ours in Greenville County have programs in place where they allow adults to volunteer and meet with a student for lunch to mentor them. I cannot begin to tell you the amount of students in our area who come from broken homes and have no positive role model to look up to. YOU can be a mentor regardless if your age, experience, etc.
I'm not young enough to work with students. -MYTH!
If you’re willing to share some of your life with a young person then YOU can be a mentor. Not only can you mentor in our local schools, but you can mentor students right here at our church. We have 40 students who have been in and out of our student ministry in the last year. They too need adults in their live who are willing to share their experience and be a positive Christian role model. You could make a difference by simply meeting with a student twice a month for lunch to check in on them, pray with them, encourage them, and simply let them know you care.
At the end of the day the issue is the heart. People do bad things because they are sinful people who have sinful hearts who live in a sinful world. (Genesis 3) The SOLUTION is a new heart through a relationship with Jesus Christ. YOU can make a difference by praying for the students in our church, community, local schools, and our nation. PRAY that God would raise up leaders to INVEST in the next generation. Pray that God would bring about REVIVAL in our students! You have the power to make a tangible difference in your community.
And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him. - 1 John 5:14-15
Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints. - Ephesians 6:18
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. -Hebrews 4:14-15
So how will you respond? What will you do to make a difference in the life of a student?