HURRICANE HARVEY & IRMA…HOW DO CHURCH PLANTERS PREPARE FOR NEXT BIG ONE?

By Tom Sine — this was first published on V3 blog.

CHURCHES REACHING OUT TO NEIGHBORS IN CRISIS IN TEXAS AND FLORIDA

Recently Rev. Walter August Jr. let service out early so Bethel’s Family Church in Texas so members could take food and supplies to help neighbors hammered by Hurricane Harvey. Bethel is only one of a number of churches in Texas reaching out to their neighbors.

The week after Harvey struck pastor August retired to his office to marry Eric Lark and Toni Lee. As he completed the paper work, he asked about their plans. ‘We are going to change our clothes and we are going to serve.’ The bride replied I have an S.U.V. so I am coming around to pick up supplies.

The latest report is that Hurricane Harvey has taken 30 lives. Over 40,000 homes have been destroyed. At least a half million cars have been destroyed as well. It is important to remember that while Harvey hammered Texas monsoons where devastating huge regions in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Mexico has also suffered a daunting earthquake.

Now “Monster Irma” has brought death and destruction to thousands of families in the Caribbean. There has been enormous flooding and devastation of homes and property as Irma traveled north through Florida. 50,000 people were in shelters and five million people are without power. There has been massive destruction of infrastructure and there are no reports of how many lives have been lost and Hurricane Jose is on its way. Recovery will take years for these two regions and families who live there to recover.

FEMA, the agencies in Florida, the Red Cross, The Salvation Army and thousands of churches are among the first responders to the most devastating hurricane ever seen in the Unites States. All of us need to join the people in Florida, Texas and people living in countries in the Caribbean with our prayers, and our contributions but there are also opportunities to volunteer with organizations like the Red Cross.

HOW CAN NEW CHURCHES OLD AND NEW PREPARE FOR NEW CRISES WHERE YOU LIVE?

After Katrina denominations like the Southern Baptists and United Methodists developed sophisticated disaster preparedness strategies in cooperation with local disaster groups. Now there are church leaders in this large response in Texas and in Florida.

Wouldn’t, it be a good idea for all congregations, including new plants, to join them in preparing for the next crisis that will impact your lives and community? I do realize that new church plants often have very limited resources to create this kind of preparedness. You might begin like the Mustard Seed Church in Austin Texas did. They joined a group called Ecclesia Houston in becoming first responders in Austin.

Or consider beginning like Axiom Church in Syracuse. They offer a discipleship course to develop a rule of life and rythmn of life. This enables members to free up more time and resources to not only be more present to God but also to become first responders to reach out to neighbors.

HOW CAN ALL OF US AND OUR CHURCHES PREPARE FOR THE NEXT CRISIS WHERE YOU LIVE?

Let me share what Christine and I have done to prepare in both our home and with church leaders in

Seattle, for example, is overdue for a major earthquake. We prepared by cross bracing our foundations to add stability. We also prepared by purchasing earthquake insurance.

We also met with 50 Christian leaders In Seattle 2007 because I suspected we were headed for a major economic recession. Though many of these leaders were skeptical that a recession was heading our way they came up with some innovative ideas. For example, one idea was to create a church “Craig’s List” researching their congregations to make an online list of those who have an extra room in their homes or cars they could share.

After this idea-storming session, two churches actually offered courses they had imagined., as the recession became more threatening. A Lutheran church offered a course on how to help families prepare by getting their finances in orders. A Baptist congregation offered a course where older members taught younger members how to can vegetables and fruit from their gardens for tougher times.

HOW CAN YOU ENABLE YOUR PEOPLE TO PREPARE NOW FOR THE NEXT CRISIS?

  1. How can you enable families and individuals to create economic, food water and medical reserves for the next local crisis? Check out the Covenant Church model communitycovenant.net/emergency-mission-partners-help-community-prepare-together..
  2. How can your congregation, like the Mormons, also store food, water and medical supplies not only for your members but for your neighbors as well?
  3. How can your church develop a disaster preparedness plan? How can a new church plant take first step, in partnership with established churches, to develop a beginning plan? I find the Southern Baptist plan particularly helpful. https://www.namb.net/send-relief/disaster-relief
  4. How can your church also join those moving from disaster relief to rebuilding with sustainable housing. After Katrina a number of churches and Christian organizations joined in building new forms of sustainable housing. This includes everything from constructing more resilient “Tiny Katrina Houses” to joining Habitat for Humanity in building more sustainable housing for those whose homes were destroyed in Texas and Florida. https://www.habitat.org/impact/our-work/disaster-response Could you or your church consider joining the huge opportunity to construct sustainable housing for the hundreds of families who have lost their homes?
  5. Consider joining Christians in Britain, Australia and Canada, in working for creation care to decrease global warming to reduce the frequency and power of natural disasters… not only for people today but for the future of your kids and grand kids. Check out: Evangelical Environmental Network: creationcare.org/ Also Watershed Discipleship: https://watersheddiscipleship.org/

Don’t miss the opportunity to join those who are creating new ways to be the compassion of Jesus in theses increasingly turbulent times!

PLEASE WRITE US AND TELL US WHAT YOU AND YOUR CHURCH ARE DOING TO GET READY FOR “CRISIS NEXT“ SO WE CAN SHARE WITH OTHERS. twsine@gmail.com