As published in Sojourners:

If the church is going to bear witness of Christ’s love in the aftermath of the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., we must not just proclaim the good news but also demonstrate the hope to which we hold.

I have tried in the past to steer clear of controversial topics in my work and ministry. But gun violence is one issue on which my feelings have grown too strong to stay quiet.

This week, I joined other evangelical Christians who believe it is time for the church to take stand, to couple our thoughts and prayers for the victims and survivors of gun violence with action. I became a founding signer of the Petition for Prayers & Action for Gun Safety in America, which started as a vision of Rev. Dr. Rob Schenk and began percolating in the evangelical community after the devastating mass shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, in November. Signed by other evangelical leaders, including Lynne Hybels and Max Lucado, this petition upholds the power and importance of prayer in response to this crisis. It also acknowledges that as Christians, we are called to do what we can to help work toward a solution.

As a Christian, a husband and father, a friend, a disaster ministry expert, a researcher, and a psychologist — I believe we need to take action to stop gun violence in our country. Here’s why:

As a Christian: We have a biblical mandate to demonstrate love for our neighbor and to protect life. I have read too many obituaries of innocent people whose lives were cut short by gun violence. We owe it to the victims and survivors of mass shootings, and to each other, to do what we can to try and prevent this from happening again, and prioritizing that in our policies. As Christians, loving our neighbors well right now also means being willing to have difficult conversations with each other about gun issues. White evangelical Christians are less likely than the American public to support stricter gun laws in America. There are many reasons we may have different opinions about how best to protect lives and prevent mass shootings from happening, but we can’t keep doing the same thing and expecting different results. As a starting point, this chart lays out some proposed policies, ranked by experts for their likelihood to reduce mass shootings, or reduce the number of people killed in them.

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