It has always amazed me how few Christian organizations have a communication plan ready to activate when a national, local or organizational catastrophe hits. I remember switching to several religious media outlets hours after the attacks on 9/11. Same old paid programming – business as usual.
A few days ago Matt Gould, Executive Producer for the Buffalo Sabres, send me the following note which I wanted to post here:
“I consider myself pretty grounded in my faith. I’m confident in the promise of eternal life given to me by the sacrifice that Jesus made for my life. But it doesn’t change the fact that, for now, I’m human. The events of the past 5 days here in Western New York surrounding the crash of flight 3407 has brought “both of me” to the table. The eternal part…thanking Jesus that I have a personal relationship with him and, as a result, that promise. And the human part…asking simply “WHY?”.
There’s a lot of that human part being talked about around water coolers at workplaces around Buffalo right now. Which begs the next question of those that might read your blog…how do we, as Christians, address this. It’s an opportunity on a grand stage. NOT an opportunity to take advantage of a horrific event. Rather, a time to recognize that local, national and international media are here….looking for anything to report on in connection with this disaster. A chance for pastors to address the basics of life: prayer, promise, faith from the pupit on Sunday morning. A chance for Christians to be reminded of these basics…and equipped to return to the water cooler to answer the basic questions from those that don’t have that personal relationship with Christ.
As you know, on the first anniversary of 9-11 I went to my pastor and suggested a similar opportunity. News media would be recognizing the anniversary…and would be looking for local “stories” to cover. I suggested that we not just hold a service. We should, instead, find ways to equip people and give back to our community. He agreed. We held a 24-hour prayer vigil in remembrance of the anniversary…AND for the future of our community, country and world. We invited local first responders…took an offering NOT for our church, but for the local fire company. But maybe most importantly, invited local media to cover the event. Two TV stations covered the prayer service live in their morning shows. A reporter asked our pastor the simple question: “What is prayer about?”. Talk about an opportunity!
Through it all no one suggested that we “took advantage” of a situation. Quite the opposite. They thanked us for giving them a place to come together on an important day. Many brought their neighbors that hadn’t been to a church in years. It’s not difficult. We just need to get outside the “church bubble” a bit more often and recognize opportunities to become members of a larger community. The result just might be more people realizing just how GOOD God is!”