How your Church can respond when a Natural Disaster hits

Have you heard about all the hurricanes, earthquakes, flooding and other disasters that have been happening around the world lately? That might be one of the biggest understatements of the years.

As bad as it has been with all the natural disasters going on around the world right now, there is a little bit of hope. The great news is that people want to help out and do something. So, it’s only natural that churches will want to step up and act. The problem is, unlike huge organizations like the American Red Cross and United Way, many churches are not structured and organized to respond as quickly. That doesn’t mean churches and ministries shouldn’t act. It just means they have to really process all they want to do, what is needed to pull it off (must be done) and how it impacts others. What am I talking about? Let me explain.

natural disastersWhen Hurricane Harvey hit, there were a lot of people wanting to help. Our church was asked to help and we did. But instead of just putting things together in a rush haphazardly, we did a few things (in no particular order except for number 1):

  1. We prayed and processed what we could do. This is key because you want to make sure you really process what needs to be done from a staff and church perspective. But you also want to make sure you are doing God’s will for your Church or ministry. So commit time to pray and process with leadership what your next steps should be.
  2. We connected with people who we knew in the Houston area and asked what they needed. Why start collecting items that the affected areas didn’t need?
  3. We partnered with organizations in the affected area to help supply financial assistance to churches and ministry on the ground there. We wanted to help and people wanted to help, but we wanted to make sure we were helping and supporting organizations we trusted. So find some groups you know and trust and support them in their missions in that area.
  4. We had to evaluate the extra time and energy our ministry team needed to invest in these new projects. The reality is natural disasters are hard to “plan” for. They just kind of show up. So for our staff to shift their current focus and spend more time with helping here was fine, but we had to really look at how the extra work we are doing to support and help the disaster relief, our primary jobs were getting done as well.
  5. We partnered with other local groups in our area wanting to help. A natural disaster is terrible but in a positive way, it can bring people together. When Harvey it, we had a lot of local groups and people talking and asking each other how we can help. While we figured out how we, as a church, could help, we partnered with these local groups and it helped us establish some real good will with people in the community.

When a natural disaster hits, it can really bring people together. Good things can happen, especially when you are trying to do good. Just make sure you fully vet all that is expected and required for you to pull it off effectively.

What do you all think? What are some of the things you do when natural disasters or tragedies hit? Share your thought below or on social media using #ymsidekick when you share.

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Tom Pounder

A father of 4, Tom is the Online Campus Pastor as well as Social Media Director at New Life Christian Church in Chantilly, VA. He blogs, vlogs, periscopes and podcasts regularly about student and online ministry stuff. Check out his work at and on iTunes (search YMSidekick).

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