Seven Ways Christians Can Act Now to Prevent the Next School Shooting

Another shooting.

Children.

A tragic young man channeling his anger through a funnel of violence. Screaming in the aftermath. Demanding answers, solutions, and action. Aiming to blame. Fumbling our way to a more secure future.

It’s becoming too familiar. The candlelight vigil. The tearful teens clutching teddy bears and texting good-bye to parents who live in fear.

I don’t know what the government should do.

I do know what the church should do. Something. We need to do something because we can. We are not helpless. We are inhabited by the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised we would do greater works than He. We are light in the darkness. Salt. The Body of Jesus Christ.

To yield to helplessness and hopelessness is cowardly and faithless. To look to the world for answers is to join others in building Babel. We need to hit our knees, open our Bibles, listen to the mature in our midst, and act. Now. Not on some tomorrow.

Today, I went to James 4 and found seven things:

First, we need to believe that God understands what’s going on more than we do: “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel.” James 4:1-2

Daily, I interact with young people who feel they’re being deprived. Some are truly lacking the basics of life. Others are simply buying the world’s narrative that they’re entitled to the best and someone is withholding it, so they must find a way to take it. We can volunteer to do after school homework clubs, to mentor, to open our churches for vacation activities, to provide rides for teens without transportation and as we do, we can listen to them. We can help supply what they lack. We can have conversations about practical ways to work toward what they want. We can model ways to manage competing passions.

Second, we need to reject the lie that prayer is useless: “You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” James 4:3 Prayer, intercession, petition, confession, thanksgiving, praise – these are tools for communicating with God and waging war on the spiritual plane. There’s nothing impotent about prayer except when we abandon it too quickly.

Pray for the children in your congregation. Organize prayer for your schools – not once a year, but all the time. When you meet with teens and young people, pray with them so they learn to pray. Pray with and for hurting families. Are there tough neighborhoods in your area? Walk their streets and pray for the households. Sponsor parenting groups at your church and include lessons in how to pray for your children.

Third, we must let the truth of God’s Word be evident in our lives. Be different in every way from the world: “You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, ‘He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us’? But he gives more grace.” James 4:4-6a

Be agents of love, patience, kindness, and hope in our communities. Seek opportunities to engage with people who are different than we are. Serve. Give. Laugh. Host meals. Celebrate regularly. Create a community where people want to belong and feel welcome. Offer to provide childcare at AA meetings or at the mental-health center. Coach sports teams. Befriend the teens who work in the places we frequent for dinner or gas or to workout. See the people we pass every day.

Fourth, stop dodging humility and acting like we have all the answers: “Therefore it says, ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.  Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.  Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” James 4:6b-10

The church doesn’t have answers, we have Jesus. He is who we share. We don’t invite others into the academy of Christendom, but into a relationship with the God of the Universe. We seek Him together – all dependent on Him from the newest convert to the mature saint. We move forward on our knees until we’re home.

Fifth, we don’t waste energy or resources speaking against others: “Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?” James 4:11-12

There is so much work to do, we resist wasting spirit and energy blaming, judging, gossiping, speculating, and decrying others. Period.

Sixth, we act now, as if our God commanded us to act now, because now is the gift He’s given us and we aren’t promised tomorrow: “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.  Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’ As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.” James 4:13-16

Young people don’t have time for you to work out your church’s five-year plan. Their hearts ache now. Their bellies are empty now. Their feelings surge now. Be there for them NOW.

Seventh, we don’t withhold what we have to offer because we’re called to lay down our lives for others: “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” James 4:17

Within the church, we have creative, loving, intelligent, talented, responsible, healthy, gifted people living forgiven, redeemed lives marked by miracles, healings, and love. To withhold ourselves from our communities is sin. Find ways to serve, to love, to give.

Yes, it’s hard. But, that’s okay. Christians do hard things. Seriously, we do impossible things because we follow Jesus. So, let’s go out tomorrow and attempt impossible things and watch the kingdom advance.

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18 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Marjorie Hill says:

    Thanks for a great post. God’s people do have the answer!

  2. Good word, Lori. My favorite line: The church doesn’t have answers, we have Jesus. Well, Hallelujah- that’s the truth that’s worth holding close.

  3. Donna Richmond says:

    Wouldn’t it be great if GOD was back in school and homes!GOD gave us special talents to use, not to waste. Thank you for making me more aware, I appreciate you.

  4. Craig Ruhl says:

    Good article. Thank you for reminding me of all the ways that I, as a Christian, can make a difference in this troubled and fallen world.

  5. Lori, Thank you for giving us tools to shine light into this dark world. I’m sharing this on all my Social Media sites and praying hard.

  6. Rob McCullough says:

    In the Kingdom of God, there are no problems because Jesus is in everything. Part of the Ecclesia’s task here on earth is to bring Christ into everything. This brings forth His Kingdom! Blessings!

  7. KATHY RICHARDS says:

    enjoy your posts so much

  8. Cyndi Olson says:

    Dear Lori,
    Got up this morning to a beautiful snow shower.
    Started on my ‘normal morning Bible studies’ and was ‘distracted down a different path’ and landed here.
    What a blessing!
    I am certain that it was no accident that the writer of one of the Bible studies that I am doing right now mentioned a book, which led me to another site, which also showed one of your books, which jarred loose a memory in my brain that I already had your book in my kindle but had not yet found the time to read it, which led me here.
    It had to be divine intervention.
    I won’t get many of my earthly duties done today, but I don’t care about that.
    This is going to be a wonderful day of exploration and soul feeding.
    I just know it.
    Thank you.
    Sincerely,
    ✝️Cyndi ?

  9. Phil Disney says:

    Lori, I am a Gideon, so I am unashamed to promote God’s Word as inspired for times like these. As a grandfather, I also know that what goes in a child’s ear will soon come out of his or her mouth.
    I was drawn to Psalm 8:2. From the mouths of children and babes… Jesus quoted this scripture to the worldly priests in Math 21:15-16. The word of praise from the mouth of a child makes the Holy Bible the most feared weapon of an evil world. Our children would repeat praise if they had heard it at home or in our church. The praise of children will stop the revengeful according to the scripture.