Triaging Your Broken World

  • by Jay Lorenzen

In Mike Breen’s Leading Kingdom Movements he compares four steps emergency workers follow when determining priorities in a disaster or emergency with our role as the church in helping triage the broken world.

  • Step 1: Demonstrate compassion for the victims of the tragedy. Get them the care they need as quickly as possible. Emercency workers help victims survive.
  • Step 2: Once the immediate emergency is over, they re-connect people to a community, most commonly tent communities.
  • Step 3: They connect people to a bigger story. In conversation, emergency personnel help the traumatized to process their loss in terms of a story rooted in redemption and recovery.
  • Step 4: In partnership with the victims, emergecny workers provide a compass for re-creating life. They work with the recovering populations to help set firm steps that point toward restoration. Those steps rests on compassion, community and a hope-filled future story.

These same steps can help in rescuing our broken world, according to Breen. When faced with the brokenness of the world, we must resist the temptation to pull-away, become self-interested and self-centered. In the face of cultural emergencies, we often allow fear to drive us, running to our perceived safe little world.

We must be like Christ and run toward the disaster. Have you seen footage from the Boston bombings in 2013? In it, you can see police officers never even hesitting to run straight to the point of emergency. That instinct should be the same we follow.

  • Step 1: Demonstrate compassion. Our first response to a world broken by sin and death is compassion. Before we survey the destruction or embrace the reality of things we should take a moment to feel the hurt we’re seeing. Look at the crowds and seek to experience a compassion for them.

    We seek to become like Jesus whose heart was broken at the sight of those overwhelmed by every disease and affliction (Matthew (9:35-36). This compassion will drive us to initial caring actions that give life, provide rescue and point toward recovery.

  • Step 2: Re-connect people to community. We build communities where the broken can feel safe and secure. We need to lead people into a caring, nurturing community. The brokenness of sin and rebellion breaks the relational connections we were created to enjoy. We need to start restoring relational disconnections – our broken relationship to God, self, others and creation.

    Since our compassion is driving us, we can focus on restoring these relational connections in sensitive ways. Creating a sense of community belonging starts to create the foundation for restoring relationships to God, self and creation. Belonging often proceeds blessing and believing.

  • Step 3: Connect people to the larger story. In brokenness, we lose all sense of place and our ability to function meaningfully.  Our identity becomes defined falsely by the tragedy of our sin and brokenness. We enter a world where it seems like there is no escape, where “what has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9)

    That's where the story of the world comes to play. The four-fold Scriptural meta-narrative of “creation, fall, redemption and restoration” breaks the cycle of “what will be will always be.”

    God has a plot-line leading to the renewal of all things under Jesus as King. His story governs the world. So, as we reconnect people to community, we tell a much larger story and encourage others to see their story enveloped by his story. 

  • Step 4:  Give people a compass that, regardless of circumstances, always points north. A compass gives direction and encouragement to move in that direction. Jesus is our compass, the true north that orients us in our newly embraced larger story.

    As disciples, we are compass carriers, helping others follow the compass by discipling them to follow Jesus, teaching them to obey all he’s commanded. For Breen, this process of discipleship revolves around answering two questions:

    What is God saying?
    What am I going to do about it?

To answer these questions we must build movements with passionate spirituality, radical community and missionary zeal.


How are you triaging the broken world?


Source: Leading Kingdom Movements by Mike Breen. See also Jo Saxton’s questions on being at rescue team.