Sutherland Springs was a horrible event and something that has impacted almost every Christian in some way. “What would we do if that happened at our church?” many will ask, and it’s something they probably should be asking. Is anyone armed at your church? Is there a plan in place?
Many of the people asking those questions are people in church leadership positions, and they’re apparently taking the stance of “not us, not here.”
“The scriptures make it clear that Jesus has issued a very quotable directive that we are to arm ourselves with the tools and machinery of lethal force,” said Geoff Peabody.
Peabody teaches gun safety courses free of charge to local church members, from ministers to their security teams. But the deadly mass shooting at a Texas church that claimed 26 lives is sparking interest from religious leaders across the country packing heat to protect their congregation.
“Ministries in the faith community are getting their head out of the sand and trying to get a clue that we are actually our brother’s keeper,” he said.
We first met his students after the South Carolina Church shooting that killed nine members of a bible study group. He’s since trained close to 1,000 people. Deacon Bruce Shoff is one of them. He’s qualified to carry a concealed weapon and he does so in church, quietly.
“We really don’t talk about it. We talk about it with the safety team,” he said.
That’s not to say there’s no resistance to the idea. That’s natural. There are people who believe that good guys with a gun can actually be a problem. There are some who just can’t seem to fathom carrying in church.
However, if Sutherland Springs has done nothing else, it reminds us that evil won’t stop at the church doors. It wasn’t the first church shooting, nor is it likely to be the last, but it was the most deadly. It’s a wake-up call for many congregations to take security seriously.
Faith can do a lot, but the Almighty never removed evil from this world. Why Christians have to deal with things like this is a topic of debate among theologians, both professional and armchair. It’s also irrelevant for our purposes here. What matters is that we know it does.
As more and more churches create security plans that include armed guards, we’re likely to see far fewer Sutherland Springs and have a few more end up like the New Life Church incident in 2007. That’s where an armed assailant, attacking his second church but was met by an armed guard and ended the attack.
No one wants to see these attacks continue. No one.
But new laws won’t stop them. It will take armed parishioners and guards who will serve as a deterrent. These maniacs appear to be motivated more by fame than anything else, and that only happens by killing lots and lots of people. If they can’t do that, they won’t target churches. It’s just that simple.
Armed churches don’t get shot up.