In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the "Blame Game" is in full force. And indeed there are probably many leaders and groups which did not respond very well to that incredible disaster. We can try to blame the mayor of New Orleans, the governor, President Bush, FEMA, Red Cross, the military, Homeland Security, weather forecasters, the Army Corps of Engineers, Congress will did not authorize funds in recent years to upgrade the levies, those who did not evacuate as ordered, or ? the list goes on and on.

While I believe that an investigation may help us to evaluate the response and to plan for better responses to future disasters, the "Blame Game" really does not help much. Too much energy is wasted, energy which could be used to help provide relief and comfort to those who have suffered. The "Blame Game" is a downward spiral which does not provide answers, it only aggravates an already painful situation.

I see the same thing happen in churches. When things are difficult in a church, often people start looking for someone to blame. Sometimes the easiest target is the pastor, or the church staff, or the organist, or the District Superintendent, or even the bishop. Often the blame is directed toward "the conference" as if the conference is some foreign authority. Sometimes blame goes toward new members, or younger members who want things changed. Sometimes blame gets directed toward older members who are accused of not wanting to change with the times. Other targets include: our Sunday School curriculum, the Scouts or other groups who use our building, the changing neighborhood, the consolidation of the school system, or denominational policies or activities that we hear about through vague press reports or through publications of groups which attack the church. Sometimes we blame in theological language and say it is the fault of the "liberals" or the "conservatives."

No matter where we try to place the blame, the "Blame Game" is a waste of energy that we need to honestly evaluate our church, energy that we need to reach out in ministry to others, energy that we need to grow spiritually, and energy that we need to use in caring for persons who are hurting and victimized.

Let's not play the "Blame Game" -- it just doesn't get us anywhere.

Rather, let us respond to the words of Hebrews 10:23-25 which says, "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for the One who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near."

from Bishop Michael J. Coyner