Scott McIntosh, pastor of City Pointe Church, survived a mass shooting 20 years ago at Wedgwood Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas. Now he’s creating a book, sermon series and website to help others learn “how to survive the heartaches of life without losing your soul.”
Scott McIntosh, pastor of City Pointe Church, is releasing a book, website and sermon series to help others who have walked through tragedy find freedom and healing. It’s a subject he’s all too familiar with.
Sept. 15 is a day that will forever be ingrained in McIntosh’s mind. Five months after the country came to a halt with the Columbine shooting someone decided to strike again. McIntosh was a member of Wedgwood Baptist Church in 1999 when a man walked into the sanctuary and began shooting.
He remembers the confusion and the pain of losing seven people who were gathered in the sanctuary, and watching as seven more were wounded before the gunman took his own life. He remembers the way the congregation opened its arms, embracing each other and trying to find peace in the darkness. He remembers the years that followed, the hard and winding journey he walked toward genuine healing. He remembers his faith being tested, hitting rock bottom and being faced with a brutal test of what he truly believed.
When he flips on the news and sees another mass shooting has wrecked the lives of his fellow Americans, he watches with an aching heart as the country and its churches struggle to find an appropriate response to the tragedy.
When the Pulse shooting took the lives of 49 people in Orlando in 2016, McIntosh finally had enough. The church didn’t seem to have an answer, so he decided to try to create something easily accessible from anywhere in the world to help people through their stages of grief.
“What happens is a familiar cycle: the incident happens, counselors are provided, but in those instances people don’t want to talk to counselors. They want to talk to survivors or the people that they walked through this tragedy with,” McIntosh said. “Relationships are the key. I’m telling my story and combining my counseling experience to walk through the shock of ‘I can’t believe that happened.’ I’m also building a website, which will be active soon, for other survivors to share their stories. Together we can create this network of survivors to offer hope, advice and guidance to those who are thrown into these horrible situations.”
The stories aren’t limited to just mass shootings. He’s inviting anyone who has walked through darkness and at one point was weighed down by their experiences to log on and share their story. His story is a shooting. Someone else may have survived a bad marriage, childhood abuse, a difficult home life or some other trial. Pain is pain and he said the process of grieving, at its core, doesn’t change.
While he said he hopes another mass shooting or tragedy never happens again, the reality indicates it will. If it does, they can now mail a set of books directly to a church in the area or connect local groups to the website to help churches have a tool to use to provide meaningful help.
Referencing the art of Kintsugi, a Japanese technique of repairing broken pottery by mending the cracked areas with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver or platinum, McIntosh said we can’t avoid the tragedies that life throws at us, but we can take the steps toward healing that may end up making us even stronger than we were before.
“At Wedgwood we were affected as a church, but our city, our nation was affected as well,” McIntosh said. “However, we haven’t come up with a very good way to respond. I like the term ‘survivor’ over ‘victim…’ you have to go through the pain to get to the other side and that’s something that people rarely talk about.”
McIntosh said they just want to make a difference where there’s a need.
His book is a combination of snippets of his and other survivors’ stories as well as a devotional and study. With approximately 20 years of experience as a pastoral counselor, he weaves methods of growth and guidance into the dialogue. Each chapter starts with a quote and ends with discussion questions that help guide the reader through their grief. It’s designed for everyone to do at their preferred level. You can read it alone and answer the questions by yourself, or you can participate in a group setting.
He hopes the city will rally around the cause and help take a stand and help get it off the ground. While he doesn’t believe there’s any “solving” of the issue, he does believe there’s a chance they can make it better. Crowd sourcing stories to share with the entire country is a simple way to make a monumental impact, and he said he hopes this city responds to let people know Plant City is “a city of hope.”
“As a survivor, I felt I had a responsibility to try and help others,” McIntosh said. “I want to stop seeing the same response. There’s shock, then political talk about guns, some highlighted stories and then it disappears. But for those people walking through this, it doesn’t go away. There’s nothing that fixes this, but we can remove the aloneness. There’s hope in this. People will hopefully walk away from this realizing they’re not alone.”
Just as wounds come from a person, McIntosh believes healing comes from people as well. And his trust in the “faithfulness and hope of God” has urged him to create this devotional, which is full of raw moments and glimpses of divine healing.
“We’re all survivors of something,” McIntosh said. “Everyone has a story to share. Are you tucking your pain away and not dealing with it or are you healing? If we can join people in the middle of their pain it changes their story, it changes their journey. I don’t know that this is the ‘best tool ever,’ but it’s the only tool I’ve ever seen.”
The Soul Survivor sermon series kicks off at City Pointe Church, 503 N. Palmer St., on Sept. 8. McIntosh is hosting a book signing at Krazy Kup, 101 E. J. Arden Mays Blvd., from 12 to 2 p.m. Aug. 24 and copies of the book will also be available at the church and on Amazon. You can also get involved with the Soul Survivors Club on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.