The year 2018 will be remembered by many N.C. Baptists as a year of disaster, and many churches are still without a place to meet. This circumstance provides a unique opportunity to reflect upon the difference between going to church and being the church.
The simultaneous vibration and tone of smartphones startle us with emergency alerts. The local fire department calls and says that your church is on fire. Disasters happen in many forms. Flooding, wind, fire and other catastrophic events affect our lives. But what happens when your church is affected by disaster?
When properly organized, Sunday School and small groups can be the tip of the spear for action. Organization is not the ministry, but it should be a platform where ministry – teaching, caring and sharing – take place. In the midst of a major disaster, here are some ideas for continuing ministry to serve the body.
If the church building is damaged, teaching might have to take place in an alternate location and on a different schedule. We have to remember that class or group members’ homes and lives have been devastated by what has taken place. Therefore, committing to a gathering place is important. Finding a safe place to meet and keeping lessons simple are important aspects of the new post-disaster normal routine.
Flooding, wind, fire and other catastrophic events affect our lives. But what happens when your church is affected by disaster?
Caring may be the most important factor. Make plans to help each other. Listening and praying together produces encouragement. There may be feelings of hopelessness. Being authentic and real creates a safe place for people to share and vent. Focus not only on spiritual and emotional needs, but also physical ones. Attempt to keep in touch with each other throughout the week.
Sharing outside of your class/group becomes an opportunity to connect with others outside the church. Pay close attention to those who are alone with no support systems in place, such as single parents or people with no family around. You may have opportunities to meet people from agencies who are responding to help in relief and recovery and have no Christian background. Getting involved in Baptists on Mission is a great way to love your neighbor.
When things seem to be coming back together, there may be a possibility of creating a new class or group for people devastated by the disaster to gather. In my experience serving in crisis response, I am always asked this question: Why does a good God allow suffering? It may be beneficial to find a biblically sound study – or have your pastor create one – that addresses this question.
The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina is here to assist your church during times of crisis like natural disasters.
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