This scenario offers those who care for kids/families the greatest of opportunities to walk alongside them. The response of bringing calm, community and connection is a priority. As a church, we have “kept the doors” open so people could be in the sanctuary (safe place) with God and His people. This past Sunday we spent time with our children and youth letting them know we were all safe together, we are loved and reminding them to reach out when they feel anxious. Where possible we are continuing with some of the typical events to give them some stability.
The church provides a unique environment for both calming and community, but it also allows for connection. We can partner with other community groups and churches to care for God’s people. This past Monday our youth spent time serving at a local agency where struggling families are served. This opportunity gave our youth a place to walk with others and look outside their own anxiety.
A final thought: It is good to ask people how they are doing. When they say, “I’m fine, “ be sure to probe further. In the face of a large-scale incident like this nobody is totally fine. All ages need and deserve the care we can give, even as we are the ones needing comfort too.
Doug Ranck is Associate Pastor of Youth and Worship at Free Methodist Church of Santa Barbara, CA. With three decades of youth ministry experience, he serves as ICTG Program Director for Youth Ministry, as well as a leading consultant, trainer and speaker with Ministry Architects, the Southern California Conference, and, nationally, with the Free Methodist Church. He has written numerous articles for youth ministry magazines and websites, and published the Creative Bible Lessons Series: Job (Zondervan, 2008). Doug is happily married to Nancy, proud father of Kelly, Landon and Elise, and never gets tired of looking at the Pacific ocean every day.
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