“We lost two great men today, but it could have been a lot worse, and I am thankful our government has allowed us the opportunity to protect ourselves.”Britt Farmer, Senior Minister, West Freeway Church of Christ (shared from Dallas Morning News)
The last Sunday of the year is often one of remembrance for churchgoers, but for the congregation at West Freeway Church of Christ in White Settlement, it will forever be unforgettable. Just after taking The Lord’s Supper, a shooter now identified as Keith Thomas Kinnunen opened fire killing two men before his life was ended by a member of the church’s security team.
Two great men perished on yesterday. That is a fact that their families, the West Freeway Church of Christ, surrounding communities and churchgoers everywhere can’t forget. But in the midst of mourning these two great men, we must pause to celebrate the swift action of the not only the security team, but armed members of the congregation who drew their weapons in response to the evil that walked among them. Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick hailed them men’s heroics saying, “The heroism today is unparalleled, this team responded quickly, and within six seconds the shooting was over.” As pointed out in many reports since the shooting, multiple worshipers drew their weapons, though only one shot was needed to end the threat in the house of worship.
Spiritually, there is also another aspect to consider and that is covering the house of prayer and ensuing services with prayer. Comfort and security at church are often assumed and not assured by the duty to pray and as the conversation continues for physical reinforcement, believers should also re-consider the need for spiritual reinforcement of increased prayer before service.
Today, as we reflect on the aftermath of the tragedy, we must also adjust to a new reality, weapons in worship. The bible declares that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but are mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:4), but when God’s people were under attack they were instructed to not only sing praises to God, but to remain battle ready! The Pulpit Commentary goes so far as to say “Some understand this metaphorically. But the weapons of Jewish warfare in Nehemiah’s time were thoroughly carnal (Nehemiah 4:13, 16, 17, 18); and against adversaries such as Sanbailat, Geshem, and Tobiah, a nation threatened with extermination is certainly entitled to use the sword.”
Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a twoedged sword in their hand;Psalm 149:6
The bible declares that the word of God is a two-edged sword, but make no mistake about it, the sword mentioned in the passage in the book of Psalm is literal. The house of worship is considered a war-zone spiritually, but it’s never safe to make it such literally. This is why only well trained shooters should be considered when defending against weapon wielding evil people. Untrained shooters could easily spark a shootout with an assailant and endanger more lives than originally intended.
Former Fort Worth Police Officer LaRhonda Young says that “every church needs to seek out their active duty military people, LE officers and veterans or former LE officers that are members of their church and ask them to serve as their eyes and if they have CHL encourage them to carry during every service.” This saved countless lives on yesterday and will probably be the model for houses of worship going forward. Former officer Young has made headlines earlier this year for the sake of proper training. In October, when Atatiana Jefferson was killed by a Fort Worth police officer, she decried the poor training incoming officers receive which lead to tragedies like this. She also shared with The SMG Report that proper training and not merely the presence of armed members is what ended the threat in the church on yesterday and encourages the same training for congregations, going forward.
When news broke of the shooting in Fort Worth, thoughts of First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs came to mind. Though no motive has been released, tt’s an inconvenient truth that houses of worship will need armed security because for most services, the most disruptive aspect of worship is an awry tambourine. The threat of mass-shootings in public places is very real and with each shooting, the sense of security enjoyed in public places whether defended by armed security or not is eroded, almost daily. What believers choose to do in the wake of yet another church shooting, will have to employ divine wisdom, swift responses and a sharp shooter.