Sblog - Scott's Blog

My heart breaks for the families who sent their children to school in hopes of making their life better only to have that life snuffed out by a former fellow student.  It ought not be this way!  Life and relationships have to mean more to us than to continue to bury our young gunned down at school.

As a Christ follower, maybe there is something we can do, no I am sure there are things we can do!  What does it look like for us to love our neighbor?  What does it look like for us to determine care for those around us?  Does the message of hope that we have found in Jesus Christ offer the same hope to the hurting people around us?

What are some of the actions that could have made a difference?  I know that vision in hindsight is said to be a perfect 20/20, so let's not second guess or place blame on anyone or anything that has already happened, but make this our marching orders for securing a better future.

The four things that students who know and follow Jesus can trust God to do are:
1. Be inclusive - seek to invite the lonely into your circle.  Most of the past shooters were all categorized as loners and rejected by the "normal" kids at school.  Could this be a life saving move in more ways than one?
2. Talk to the authorities at your school.  There are resources that can be brought to bear if the information is passed along.  It appears there were gaps in communication, I am sure no one did anything intentionally, but keeping those who have resources and expertise informed is an important first step to making a hurting person whole.
3. Pray! - organize the other Christ followers at your school to gather to pray.  Not out of fear and merely to be protected, though please pray for that too, but that the hope that lives in you would be made known to those around you. What might God do in response to students crying out to Him to change their school?  How might you be emboldened to live differently at school as God answers your prayers?
4. Speak about Jesus - in an environment that is not very often friendly to the Christian message, this could seem like a tall order.  The call here is to develop a practice of lovingly and winsomely, but powerfully speaking about the One that changed your life! Often that can come through caring for the people personally.  I have found that your peers more often than not reject how we characterize Jesus more so than reject Him outright.  So, let's be different: listen well to your fellow students.  Ask good questions.  When you see them again after they shared more personal information, thank them for being transparent and ask them an appropriate question (Did it get better?, How have things changed?, Did you get to have the conversation you hoped to have?, etc.).
How about parents, or people in the community?  These 5 things should be on our radar:
1. Time to talk - as a parent, try to have some good conversation time with your children (I know, easier said than done).  I have found a couple of places that have been more conducive to meaningful conversation with children, in the car with the radio off (and the earphones out), and at night before bed, especially if you go in and pray with them.  See what is going on, find out if there are people that are being picked on or in other ways ostracized, who are the bullies bullying. Ask them about what most concerns them or how do they feel when they enter the school, and why.
2. Get involved -  I have found there are more opportunities to volunteer at school in elementary than middle and even less for the high school, but they do exist.  In elementary, coach Little League or Pop Warner, etc., as well as the things that are needed for school.  In middle school, there are still some athletic responsibilities, but you can always help in the drama and music departments at school.  There are various clubs in both middle and high school that your expertise can be put to good work. Be creative, and prayerful.
3. Speaking of prayer - A friend of mine and other fathers (could be grandfathers or those without children in the school system) created a group that helped the school monitor the halls.  They called it by the school's name and add the word Dads.  They volunteered to walk the halls at passing class times around lunch o be a presence.  They walked in pairs and since most of them were Christ followers, they prayed as they walked around, when they weren't engaging with the students.
4. Safety Panel - organize a parents safety panel with the school that helps inventory safety concerns and passes them along to the administration.  This might not be the way to approach it, but a good and open conversation with the administration, to see how parents can be involved in this process could go a long way.
5. Prayer Walk - What if weekly, monthly, quarterly the believing community gathered at the school to pray for the students, teachers, staff and administration?  Walk around the outside of the school (inside as weather requires, if administration is willing).  God reminds us that we have not because we ask not and that He delights in responding to our cry.

What about the church?  How can she respond to the needs of her community schools?
1. Educators on mission - Commission faith-filled education professionals in your congregation as missionaries. Use a Sunday at the beginning of the school year to honor and pray for these special people, sending them to represent Christ at their workplace.
2. Pray often - God is sovereign - in control of everything, should we not spend more time seeking what He wants and praying to Him as our heart lines up with Him desires for us?  Gather people together weekly for God to change your community. We can not express enough how much we are dependent on God, and prayer is a perfect demonstration of that!
3. Your church a haven - what can you do as a congregation to impact your community?  Is your church (including your building) an open and inviting place for those who might not normally darken the doors of the church?  Are there activities that you can host or fun events that you can sponsor either in your building or elsewhere in the community that reminds your neighbors that you are committed to engaging with them not segregating ourselves from them?  
4. Partnerships - what para-church organizations are at the area schools that you can partner with to take the message of Christ to the students at the local schools?  Young Life, FCA, Youth for Christ (YFC), Cru and others are engaged with many high schools in your community. FCA, Wyld Life, and Cru are working with middle schoolers around you.  Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF) do excellent work in the elementary schools all over.  These groups would love to empower qualified volunteers to extend God's work in your community!
5. Support Groups - supporting parents of troubled students (whether it is drug or alcohol abuse, or some form of mental /physical issues, or violence) could really use caring people to counsel, train them to care for their children in need.  Mostly, they would love to be heard and loved on as they carry these heavy burdens.

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