Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A Ministry of Presence

I had considered entitling a post "Please Don't Blog About This," to plea with fellow bloggers to delay offering dry, theological sentiment in the wake of the tragedy at Virginia Tech, but I know the voice will not be heeded. Blog friend Streak has already addressed the ridiculousness of the media in covering mass tragedies and blathering on and on about, well, nothing.

But Pastor Chris, the Evangelism Coach, expressed my sentiment about this better than I could.
Questions about the sovereignty of God will come. Questions about the character of God will be asked. Question about evil and questions about human responsibility will be examined.

But now is not the time for theological discourse.

We have theolgoical answers. Scripture informs us, teaches us, and guides us. But it's not the time for logical and dry explanations.

People hurt.

It’s time for compassion and a ministry of presence.
Thanks, Chris.


Steve Sensenig said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for bringing this to the forefront. I have been troubled by the media coverage, but more troubled by the "theological responses".

Just a few moments ago, I heard Franklin Graham interviewed by E. D. Hill on FoxNews (via XM Radio in my car), and his response was much more in line with what you are proposing here.

E. D. asked him the standard questions about "where is God" and he turned it right back into a basic gospel message, presented clearly and articulately. And he talked about the pastoral counselors that the BGEA has deployed there to listen and pray with people.

I agree with you, Tony. THAT is what is needed more than anything!!

Spunky said...

Absolutely, this post needs to be said and read by MANY Christian leaders.

I received an email yesterday from a prominent homeschool lawyer, pastor and speaker who shared his thoughts on the tragey. He begins by asking, "What are we to learn?" Immediately my antennae was raised. How can we ask a question such as that when the grieving families haven't even buried their loved ones, and the facts and motives haven't even been pieced together. What have we to learn? To "mourn with those who mourn" and comfort the hurting.

I knew then that this piece was little more than an attempt to manipulate and present HIS opinion and little more.

The essay contained some truth but lacked any semblance of compassion for the lost and hurting; even going to far as to say that the rise of violence in our society was "God's judgement" and then uses the opportunity to call Christians to "arms." I have nothing against Christians owning a weapon, but do we really want to preach that message at this time? I don't think so. The call to "arms" should have been the call to wrap our arms of love and prayer around them and hold them close.

He does conclude with a call to comfort. His last paragraph should have been his first and the rest, I could have done without.

selahV said...

Tony: you said it well. so many do not know how to minister in these times. I heard some pretty stupid stuff when I lost my son and it's hard enough to breathe without hearing rhetoric and so-called words of wisdom such as, "well,you know he's in a better place. he's at peace. you'll see him again." please...just say you have no idea what they are going through and you hurt for them. that's it. nothing else is needed. except maybe a box of tissues. selahV

Tony said...


Please forgive the tardiness of my responses. I had a funeral this afternoon plus I preached the final night of revival at Ellis Creek BC this evening. Its been a busy day!


You're welcome! I have always admired Franklin's responses during times like this--he always seems to be balanced, more of a Mary response than a Martha.

At the tomb of Lazarus Jesus encountered Martha with a theological explanation of what was about to take place. He wept with Mary. Both are necessary but may God give us wisdom to discern what we need to do. I think right now, all we should do is weep, and not just for the victims, but for the shooter as well.


I think I know who you are talking about in that email, because it is quite possible I received the same one. I won't call any names since you didn't, but I am pretty convinced that I know who you are talking about. I was perturbed with the email as well (if it was the same one).

Two weeks from now that blog post would be appropriate. But right now, it is absolutely necessary that those kids find hope somewhere, that they have an open ear to talk to, and a shoulder to soak with tears, not about their right to bear arms.

The call to "arms" should have been the call to wrap our arms of love and prayer around them and hold them close. Well said.

Mrs. V, always have a word of encouragement. The best ministry during times like this is to shut up. In times like this, people aren't looking for answers...yet. That comes later. The crisis of faith calls for a Barnabas figure to bring you along, a Paraclete of sorts to lift you up.

I cannot stand those meely-mouthed platitudes either. I was once at the funeral home and I could have gone slap through a lady. She told the deceased's grandmother that "God needed another flower for His garden."

It is bad enough that so many people ridiculously believe we become angels in heaven, but flowers?

Blessings upon each of you!