The last decade (and past few months and days) have seen disaster after disaster—big and small, manmade and natural catastrophes. They are unpredictable and devastating. So the question is, when the next one hits—how will your church respond? Are you positioned to be a light, offering comfort and resources to your community and those afar?
Pray over these ideas, and ask the Lord how He’s leading your church in this area of service…
Create a System: Put in place policies, procedures and people to contact to meet manpower and specific care needs. When the need is urgent, your team should be able to mobilize quickly.
Establish a Network: Create a go-to list of area resources, financial assistance, and like-minded organizations you can partner with. Know who offers what aid, and communicate what you plan to provide. When disaster strikes, host a central space where these organizations can meet with people.
Develop a Response Team: A step down from 911, First Baptist Church for Hammond, Ind. developed a First Response Team mobilized by a simple phone call to meet manpower and counseling needs for personal and city-wide catastrophes. -Outreach Magazine, 2010 Special Issue
Send Supplies: In the event of a distant disaster, your local people will likely want to help. Make it easy, and provide opportunities to be a blessing to others. Send donations to an active disaster area church or organization. Check the ECFA website for a list of Christian organizations that are active in the disaster area.
- Supply Drive: Hold a drive to collect supplies such as food, toiletries, water and clothing.
- Host a Benefit: Host a special event, auction or other fundraiser to raise financial support for disaster relief. Send cash, or collect donations towards specific needs—like pop up shelters, funeral expenses, medical replacements (Rx, glasses, dentures, etc.), .
Provide Training: Provide disaster training or class through one of these agencies. Folks who go through the program could be sent on overseas missions teams or part of a local, on-call team.
Be an Emergency Shelter: Contact your local Red Cross to gain approval as an emergency shelter during disasters. Discuss the requirements needed for space, materials on hand, and your on-call volunteer base.
Offer Shelter Support: If your church isn’t able to be an emergency shelter, get behind one that’s up and running. Provide volunteer services, supplies, counseling and spiritual aid.
Be a Volunteer Center: Create a place where search and rescue teams and clean-up volunteers can come to form teams, rest and regroup. Provide counseling services and a space for refreshment.
Search & Rescue: Contact your local sheriff’s department, and ask about details for joining the local search and rescue team. Attend a monthly meeting or training session to discover how your church could be involved.
Clean Up: Provide volunteer teams to remove debris and work with agencies to otherwise right the community in the wake of disaster.
Provide Childcare: Minister to children (and parents) caught in the disaster by supplying free childcare, respite care, preschool, tutoring, creative workshops, story times, games and other activities. Supply parent education and child counseling as needed.
Get the Word Out: If your church is ready with food, supplies, or services, be sure to post clear and detailed info quickly to your website and Facebook pages, and communicate it to other area relief organizations.
Meet Long-Term Needs: Provide care and counseling to those in need over longer periods of time. Consider arranging housing, rebuilding, childcare or hosting support groups. Assess what other needs might be present, and how your church can help.
The last time a need was felt in your area, how did your church respond? How is your church prepared for the next disaster?