I am going to primarily refer to the article written by Bobby Ross at the Christian Chronicle. During communion Sunday there was an active shooter event that resulted in a fatal conclusion for the shooter at West Freeway Church of Christ outside Fort Worth, Texas. Details are still sketchy as I write.

My father presided over the table Sunday morning at West Avenue Church of Christ in Ashtabula. Service was fairly uneventful. When there is a fifth Sunday to a month we usually have a “Praise & Worship” service. Songs were sung, I led opening prayer, Dad presided over communion, the located preacher/song leader handled closing prayer. I remember asking in opening prayer for strength in the upcoming new year as it is expected to be an eventful one.

Now, FEMA’s Emergency Management Institute has an independent study program with a distance learning course covering mass casualty incidents at “houses of worship” and related facilities. I’ve run through that and several other courses. They are equal parts useful and disturbing.

Currently we don’t have emergency plans. It isn’t for a lack of trying on my part. Our congregation is just small enough that the feeling is that we don’t need one, I guess. I can describe an unorganized measure that does help prevent bad things from happening.

Do you greet your visitors at your church? I can’t over-emphasize how important that is. We have a nice guy who is a veteran who hands bulletins to people as they come in and shakes hands. The preacher and the elders also sit in the foyer between the end of morning bible class and the start of morning services. Church isn’t something you do alone and helping improve fellowship can help prevent alienation. You also have to consider that if somebody wanted to cause trouble they don’t want to mess with the smiling, lovable veteran handing out bulletins at the door.

Security-minded folks can look at it as a security measure. I look at it instead as a way to help build up the church body. A congregation is not supposed to be a group of lone wolves. I do suggest reading 1 Corinthians 12:12-26 for good measure.

Beyond that, church fellowship helps greatly. The average size of a congregation within a non-instrumental Church of Christ setting is one where I see multiple figures. I doubt Wikipedia’s and the others out there are over a decade old. Regardless of size you still need to have fellowship among the members of the body. You need to be able to connect.

I’ve worshipped with tiny congregations and huge congregations. I’ve worshipped in urban areas and worshipped in a rented space in the Territory of American Samoa. I preach twice per month to bring the word to people at a local nursing home. Incidents of violence at churches are not earth-shattering threats. If you thoroughly read the book of Acts, the apostle Paul thoroughly gets the tar beat out of him in his missionary journeys. We live in a fallen and broken world and for a faith tradition of primitivists we have to think very hard about how things are reverting to the way they operated in more biblical times. See, for example the incident in Ephesus.

For now, I move forward. I’m not sure I’ll say anything at West Avenue. I am our trained person on homeland security sorts of issues. For the most part we are on our own for quite a few minutes whether it comes to needing a response from police or emergency services. Building up our resilience is needed for the littler things.

Stepping boldly forward into the future is the best thing we can do, I think.