Is the Sanctuary Secure?

Dear Church Family,


My heart is broken for the congregation of FBC Sutherland Springs in Texas that suffered such loss this past Sunday. While the motives of the shooter do not seem to be religiously motivated this act definitely still stands as a testimony of the existence of evil in this world and the desire of evil to persecute the bride of Christ through whatever means possible. We pray for the injured victims’ recovery, all the victims’ families, and for emotional healing and a sense of God’s presence, peace, and protection.


It is in moments like these that often we ask: Why did God allow this to happen? We might understand it better if the shooter had been religiously motivated and we could see these victims as martyrs for Christ… but that does not exactly fit this scenario.


We will never know the full extent of God’s purposes and His will in allowing such reckless evil to destroy so many innocent lives. But that is where faith comes in.


Can we still have faith in God’s goodness, love, and provision even in the face of such uncertainty? Can we trust that he is still sovereign over even the most minute detail of what goes on in the world? Can we let Him be God and not try to take a stance of judgement against Him?


Jesus Wept

                            -John 11:35


The smallest verse in the Bible says it all. Even though Jesus had the power to save Lazarus from death no matter how far away physically he was at the time, Lazarus was still allowed to die. And even though Jesus knew that his very mission was to go and bring Lazarus back from the dead, his response to his friends death was an expression of sorrow. It proved His love for Lazarus to those around. Yet, even after weeping he affirmed that these things were done so that God would receive the glory and that what was done would show that Jesus was indeed the resurrection and the life.


so… Lazarus walked out of the tomb.


Do we trust the tears of Jesus? Do we believe in His love and that His own heart is broken for the victims in Texas? Do we trust that He has a plan for restoration?


Not only does the situation in Texas evoke spiritual questions, it raises practical concerns as well. This small church was very much like our own and causes us to ask: Could this kind of thing happen here at LGBC?


The answer is…Yes it could happen.


But even with this very uncomfortable acknowledgement, I want to let you know on behalf of the deacons and the trustees that we have all already been discussing ways of enhancing church security from all possible threats…and this discussion has been ongoing since even before I came back in June. We have had and will continue to have conversations with local law enforcement and church security professionals about ways to mitigate risk while still seeking to be an open and welcoming place to the community.


There are many extremes at play in this kind of planning and so we ask you the congregation to be in prayer as we balance these extremes in a way that is God honoring. We cannot become a fortress with restricted access…that will violate the mission of the church. But we also must take into account the very definition of “sanctuary” as not only a place of worship and intimacy with God but also as a place of safety and rest.


The fact remains that we will never be impenetrable to an attack by someone motivated by evil intentions and we need to realize this… and trust God.


So when someone comes into church who seems suspicious, it is okay to talk to a deacon or usher about your concern… But, I want to challenge you to also seek ways of extending to those individuals the hand of Christ. Make them feel welcome. Invite them to sit with you. Try to get to know them and even ask them if there are ways you can pray with them or for them. Even if they have come into the church with the plan to cause harm, your “risky” act of love in greeting them might just very well cause the Holy Spirit to convict them of their intended actions… and or it might give you the information you need to confirm with the deacons or ushers that the individual is indeed a threat.


If you feel led to be a part of these efforts of enhancing church security, please let your deacon or a trustee know. There are many possible ways to be a help and part. Cooperation and communication are vital components to any plan. We also have very particular insurance framework we have to work in.


Let us continue in prayer for those in Texas and that God will use this situation to draw many to Him.

May God bless His work in you and through you,


Rev. Josiah Antill


Associate Pastor for Family Ministries

Lake Gaston Baptist Church