Whenever we face a crisis like one(s) we’re currently in, I hear so many of my fellow Christians and church leaders respond with “This is an opportunity for the church.”
I understand where that sentiment comes from. I’ve even participated in some helpful conversations while using the word.
But it always makes me cringe a little.
Time To Rise Up
Words matter. A lot. Especially in a time of crisis. I propose that the word “opportunity” needs to be reconsidered in our current context.
For example, imagine receiving an email from the Red Cross following a natural disaster with a tagline that read “This disaster is an opportunity for the Red Cross!”
Such a phrase has so many problems with it, not the least of which is that it centers the Red Cross in the narrative instead of the victims they are charged with helping.
Certainly, the Red Cross exists to help people in desperate circumstances, so those times are exactly when they step up and shine. But providing aid during a disaster is less an opportunity for the Red Cross than it is their responsibility – one they’ve taken on willingly and have borne well.
It must be the same for the church.
Instead of framing difficult circumstances as an opportunity for the church, we need to see it for what it is.
As we face one crisis after another we, the church, must accept our responsibility to rise up and be a blessing, an example and a hope to others.
When we do this, we’re more likely to keep our priorities straight.
The church must see trying times like these as a responsibility to meet, not an opportunity to exploit.
When we do that, several important changes take place:
First, we remove ourselves from being the focus, placing more attention where it belongs – on Jesus and on those he’s calling us to help.
Second, it frames our role better. Not as an institution fighting for our own survival, but as people working together to help the most vulnerable. Including the hurting people within our own ranks.
Third, it helps us partner with others who are looking for a way to be a blessing.
Fourth, it reduces the likelihood of being deceived by those who are looking to exploit a tragedy for their own ends.
Fifth, it humbles us. It’s easy to frame an opportunity as something we do on our own, but a responsibility is more likely to drive us to our knees in prayer and reliance on God.
Sixth, it sets the right tone for everyone, from leaders and volunteers to observers and skeptics. It reminds all of us that we’re not here to be served but to serve.
Responding well in a crisis is far more than an opportunity, it’s a great responsibility.
(Photo by Getúlio Moraes | Unsplash)