How to respond to a crisis

In times of natural disasters or emergencies, local authorities and folks from the community are likely to reach out to faith communities to help with recovery. But hardly any congregations have an existing plan in place to respond when disasters happen. And the requests aren’t always of a material nature.

The Alban Institute has some great, specific advice in an essay posted on their site:

“One important component of good disaster-preparedness work is to make an inventory of a congregation’s strengths and to develop ways to rely on these strengths in a disaster. These same strategies can be applied in times of difficulty. For example, perhaps one of a congregation’s passions and strengths is to gather frequently for fellowship. This practice should be resumed as soon as possible after a disaster (or other community hardship, such as the widespread unemployment facing many communities today) to provide a place for people to support one another. If a congregation is known for its outstanding worship services, then worship could be a source of comfort and encouragement as people seek to be in touch with God in their time of sorrow and struggle. A congregation that has a well-developed and effective youth-ministry program can help stabilize the social structures for youth who have lost their schools or other important social outlets as a result of disaster. Likewise, church can become a stable community for those who have lost their jobs—and therefore their work community—in these difficult economic times.

People naturally turn to their congregations for support and encouragement during both individual and community-wide challenges. Knowing this, congregational leaders can increase their effectiveness in a time of need by thinking about their congregation’s ‘assets’ or strengths during times of calm.”

You may read the full article here.

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