Your Church and Natural Disasters—Part II
I began this blog in a previous post and would encourage everyone to read Part I prior to reading this conclusion.
When a disaster strikes a community, be it a hurricane, tornado, flood, etc. Churches desire to be a shining light and help anyway possible. However, every Church cannot do everything and each Church and Pastor should carefully develop a plan of assistance should the need ever arise.
During hurricanes, floods, tornados, etc. people often look to local Churches as potential shelters. Just because your Church has the space does not qualify it as a shelter. A lot of thought and consideration must factor into whether or not your Church can successfully operate in a relief shelter capacity.
Dealing with the Loss
When you take into consideration the huge loss and add it to any emotional, personal, and physical toll of any major storm, the needs of the community and the Church can easily escalate to gargantuan proportions.
I toured an area struck by massive tornados several years ago. The small town looked like a warzone. Many residents were not even able to locate their homes. Those that did were overwhelmed by the unrecognizable condition in which they found it. With that said, how should a Church proceed in dealing with any personal or community loss?
Sometimes It Is Better to Donate than Provide
Often, Churches will get overzealous in their desire to help a community by wanting to start their own relief effort. This can be a major mistake for the Church.
The Church may not have the heartbeat of the particular community as to what the needs are. Don’t rush to purchase water, conduct clothing or food drives, etc. By the time you collect what you desire, that community may have an over-abundance of that item and any that you would take would simply be surplus.
What I will suggest may seem cold-hearted or calloused by some reading this blog, but I would suggest that your Church donate the money the members would spend on things like water and paper towels, to a credible relief agency. My personal choice is the Salvation Army because a huge majority of donated funds to them actually make it to the cause and is not swallowed up in administrative overhead.
These organizations are experienced in disaster relief and know where to best channel funds and supplies, while limiting waste.
If you choose to send supplies rather than money, do due diligence to discover what supplies are most needed by the reputable relief agency.
Your members are probably not qualified in disaster preparedness and relief. Therefore Church people that attempt to become one are usually more in the way than they are a help.
Do What God Called You to Do
In times of crises and disasters, people need emotional and spiritual help and support. It is easier to provide physical needs than emotional and spiritual. All too often we rush to provide the physical, while the spiritual and emotional needs starve.
This is not a time to “ram the Gospel” down someone’s “throat.” They need to know and feel that someone cares and that they are loved. One of the most helpful things Church members can do in a crisis is demonstrate the unadulterated love of Jesus.
Inform your volunteers in this area, not to take things personally. Remember, people are suffering tragic loss and most have had to tell their story until they may be tired of telling it. If they lash out at you, be kind, understanding, and don’t take it as a personal assault against you or your Church. Have some of your volunteers trained to recognize the difference between normal stress and grief, and that which is abnormal and unhealthy, and respond accordingly.
You are a Church and your specialty is the spiritual. It is acceptable and needed to conduct Worship Services to pray for those who are affected. One of the best ways to help the grieving find the path to recovery is through worship. Even if your Church facilities are damaged, find a way to offer this need.
Be sensitive to the grieving in attendance. This is not the time to try to raise an offering. Many who attend may have lost everything. Do not place them in an uneasy position which will be created by an offering plate shoved in their face.
This is Why You Need Us
As the premier Church Management Firm in the nation we know what others do not. That is why it behooves every Pastor and Church Leader to attend a Church Management Conference. To register for a seminar nearest you, call 800-344-0076, or visit us online at www.cmtc.org. This will be the greatest investment you can make for you and your Church.
Every crisis and disaster is an opportune time for the hurting to see the Jesus that you preach about every Sunday. Let them see Him!