Once again our nation is facing tragedy in the aftermath of a mass shooting, and once again folks are taking to social media to vent their grief and frustration, and subsequently debate positions on gun control. And I fear that once again, we will soon move on, maybe with some taking a leave from social media, and then we'll forget all about those left hurting. The cycle is predictable, and little changes.
But what if there WAS something you could do? What if there was a productive way to respond that didn't involve Facebook or Twitter debates?
Right Place. Right Actions.
Part of the frustration we have with social media is that, despite all our methods of communication, messages seem to get lost in the wrong places. Your voice may be heard, but often only by folks who share your viewpoint or those who want to pick a fight. And neither groups likely have any decision making power to begin with. Our righteous desires for justice and restoration for a broken world get imprisoned by digital social bubbles.
Why waste your time on something that doesn't matter?
As Benjamin Franklin once said, "Remember not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment." Instead of sowing discord, let's learn to direct our energies in more productive ways.
Our friends at the Brethren National Office have already offered some helpful words of advice on how we can think about and respond to such tragedies in a more Christlike manner. See the links below for Steven Cole's comments on a Christ-like posture for using your influence and Patrick Sprague's comments on how we can respond to mass shootings with lament. These are excellent resources for how our faith ought to shape the way we think about these issues.
But here, I'd like to offer some the healthy and productive ways to use your voice and actions to make a difference.
For Christians, our first and ultimate hope is always Christ. That hope is then made tangible in the ways that we engage with others in service and relationship. Finally, that corporate expression of faith helps to inform how we engage in democracy - sharing our concerns about justice with those who shape policy and practice in our world.
Social media can be a helpful way to hear diverse perspectives, but it should never take the place of prayer and community action. Like Jesus, our love in action should always be incarnated in relationship. So how is God inviting you to respond today?
An Aid for Goshen, IN Residents
If you're like me, you might wonder where to even start when it comes to contacting your representatives. Here's some handy information on our national and district representatives. If you live outside of Goshen, your representatives will obviously be different. But y'know, just Google it.
And if you're wondering where to start with prayer, come on over to Goshen First Brethren and we can give you some pointers.
Date Day with Jesus
To Go or Not to Go?
This article originally appeared on the The Brethren Church blog, authored by a guest writer named Nathan Tabor.
To go or not to go to church ... that question has been a hard one for me for 10-plus years now. I grew up a preacher’s kid, and I had been involved in church all of my life. As I grew older and, in my mind, wiser, I started to see behind the curtain a bit. And what I saw, I didn’t like.
I didn’t like the hypocrisy of seeing people say one thing, yet do another. I didn’t like the legalism or judgmental attitude of others. Over time, I settled into a mindset that I could have a great walk with God and a relationship with Jesus as long as I kept both my quiet time and my prayer life alive... as long as I did it my way.
Do you feel like that? Are you currently in this mindset?
Occasionally, I would venture out and visit a church here and there. But I never felt completely comfortable with one aspect or another. There was always something that I allowed to keep me away.
Over the years, I also used other excuses not to attend church: I was tired after a long week of work or that I needed to spend time with my family. But I never used these excuses when it was something I wanted to do, like to work out at the gym or take a vacation.
Basically, I had used one excuse or another to not get involved in any church.
What I finally came to realize and understand is that behind my own curtain, I was being a hypocrite too. Yes, I admit it! Behind my own curtain, I was judging others for their attitudes or for what they had done or not done.
Here’s the truth: everyone has issues. Every church has issues. Churches are run by people. And people are humans, and humans are sinners, myself included.
The difference between them and me was simple: they were at least trying to observe fellowship with other Christians and to serve the Lord.
It really started to weigh on me almost a year ago. I need to adjust my attitude and drop my hypocrisy and get involved.
Now that I’m actively involved in a church, I still see people doing and saying things that I don’t necessarily agree with. Or they may do something that I would handle differently. And I’m 100% sure that some would say the exact same thing about me. The difference now, however, is two-fold:
When previously I acted on my own--dealing with the hardships of life all by myself--I now have many Christian brothers and sisters who have my back. There is comfort in numbers!
So, stop the excuses. Stop the judging and forget about what has happened in the past. I promise you, if you join or start participating in a Bible-believing, Bible-teaching church, there will be less damage done to you in that church than the damage that will happen to you and your family outside of the church.
Nathan Tabor lives in Kernersville with his wife and daughter. He has founded and owned over two dozen businesses since 1999. Some of these ventures have been wildly successful while some have been epic failures. He is passionate about applying God's word to his personal and professional life and helping others do the same as an executive coach and business growth consultant. Learn more about Nathan at NathanTabor.com.
This article originally appeared on the Northeast District Youth Leaders blog for The Brethren Church, authored by Luke Dowdy of Berlin Brethren Church in Berlin, PA.
People look for value, not just activity when they attend church. – D. Reiland
I’ve heard and been a part of churches that think they’re accomplishing Kingdom work simply by virtue of being busy. “We’re an active church. We’re a busy a church.” Well, those things aren’t bad…as long as they’re actually adding value and not another task to peoples’ lives.
In student ministry, I’ve noticed an obvious trend the last few years in teenagers—students are burning out! They play sports, commit to clubs, log community service hours, work part-time jobs, pursue academics, attend youth group, and list any other responsibility your community offers. But are these events adding value to their growth? The quick answer for many parents is likely yes. You can find a way it’s benefiting them. But do they understand what they’re doing as adding value?
The best part is that the church exists to accomplish a gospel mission of infinite value. It shouldn’t be a hard pitch to make when you frame Jesus properly. In fact, Dan Reiland also notes that if the people you lead know where you are going, and what value they’re investing in, you can get there together.
Reframe your times together as not just time fillers or “good” ministry to be involved in. Rather, communicate the value being pursued.
Updates and devotional thoughts for and from our faith family.