Pastors are often criticized (sometimes fairly, often not), for burying their head in the sand when it comes to engaging the real problems and people all around them.
It’s called being in the “holy huddle” – the term used to describe the tendency for Christians to only surround themselves with other believers.
But that’s not the case with TJ Grooms, an assistant pastor in Chicago who serves alongside Senior Pastor Corey Brooks at New Beginnings Church on the city’s notoriously violent South side.
You’ll recall Pastor Brooks launched a 100-day “Rooftop Vigil” back in 2021 to raise awareness regarding the senseless killings plaguing the church’s neighborhood and surrounding areas. He is also the founder and CEO of the community anti-violence organization Project H.O.O.D.
But in an interview on national television this morning, Pastor Grooms made clear he’s not waiting for a government agency to step in and solve the escalating crisis. In fact, he even called out the liberal do-nothing politicians who say one thing and yet actually do nothing.
“I’ve gotten to a place to where I no longer expect from them,” he told Fox News’ Bill Hemmer.
He then said you can look out the window at all the carnage and catastrophe and blame others and cry for help – or look in the mirror.
“I want to be the change instead of expecting someone else to be the change for me,” he said.
Pastor Grooms is leaning into a major problem facing our country – and the Christian Church. As families weaken and fray, government has grown exponentially – and all too many seem to think that’s entirely acceptable and a viable solution to the problem. In the end, though, it’s actually making a bad situation much worse.
So, what’s the alternative?
“What can I do?” Grooms asked. “I want you to look at yourselves and ask that question. Your time, your talent, your treasure is needed,” he said.
In this instance, Pastor Grooms is exactly right. There’s an old saying that “When you point one finger, there are three fingers pointing back at you.”
Of course, this brings Jesus’ own words to mind. “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? he asked. “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:3,5).
“We have to get to a place to where you understand that when a child gets shot and killed in the city of Chicago, that’s your community,” Pastor Grooms reflected. “Even though you’ve never lived here, even though you’ve never been around here, it’s your community because we’re Americans.”
As Christians, we must pray for the peace and prosperity of our cities (Jeremiah 29:7), but we must also examine our own lives and see where, when and how we might help be part of the solution.