I'll never forget 9/11 or the impact it had on me personally. That Tuesday morning we had our weekly senior management meeting. We were together at Honker's--a local restaurant--for breakfast and conversation. Mark Waltz, Tony Morgan, Rob Wegner, Karen Schuelke and Mark Beeson were all there with me.
I had my cell phone set up to receive major news alerts. Usually I would get maybe one alert on a weekly basis. This morning, my phone started buzzing like crazy. The first one said, "Small plane crashes into world trade center." I told everyone about it, and we kept meeting. Figured some guy in a small plane got off course. Then, two more text messages, then five, then a new text message every 60 seconds.
We knew it was serious and we concluded our meeting. A couple of the guys headed to my house to kick on the TV to see what was going on. We watched in amazement as the first tower fell--"live" on TV. Then, 45 minutes later the second tower fell. Then the visuals of hundreds of dust-covered men and women in business suits fleeing from ground zero.
I still remember the feeling of being totally paralyzed. Unable to do anything that entire day except sit on the couch and watch what was happening on the television. I felt totally helpless, totally unable to lead, follow, or barely even talk. It was as though the entire world had changed in a moment. For a guy who doesn't experience wide swings of emotional expression--it was overwhelming. I didn't even have an internal category for what I was feeling.
The next day Mark and I talked together and decided to scrap the weekend series we had just launched. We didn't figure a series on marketplace success would ring the bell in our new reality. So we started a series dealing with the crisis with messages such as "How Could a Loving God Allow A Tragedy Like This?" and "What Could Christians Learn from Muslims?" and "War: Right or Wrong?"
When I reflect back on that day five years ago, I am still filled with emotion. It must be what older Americans feel when they reflect on the attack on Pearl Harbor. I don't ever want to forget what happened. I don't want to take our liberty for granted. I don't want to assume we'll always have untethered freedom to lift the name of Jesus.
I also decided then that I always want to be part of a church that can change everything in a nanosecond to respond to our culture. It is what is required. I pity the churches that are so stuck in their plans and programs that they can't see and respond to the hurting world around them.