This is a busy hurricane season. Hurricane Harvey has flooded the 4th largest city in America and hurricane Irma is currently making landfall in Florida and other Southeastern states. As pastors, we may feel the call to make a response. We may also feel the need to encourage our people as they wrestle with the issues and anxieties associated with the threat of inclement weather. Today, I’d like to share a few tips for busy pastors to help you respond in a meaningful way.
As pastors we need to be ready to make the best decisions for our churches. Some of us may need to cancel services and meetings so our members won’t be put in harms way. We need to also be ready to minister to those who are being sheltered in some of our communities. If you’re in a safe zone you may have visitors from evacuated areas visit your church to find comfort and encouragement in the Lord.
Know the issues people are facing. Know what’s happening around you. Even if your church or community are not directly impacted by a hurricane, your members and friends could be. This is a small world and your members may have family, friends, and other connections who are in harm’s way. Knowing what’s going on will equip you to minister to them.
In times of crisis pastors can be a calming voice to a community. Even our digital voices on social media can become powerful tools when we respond positively to the concerns people express online. Like, retweet, comment positively, speak life and let others know you’re praying for them. Share comforting verses in moderation without sounding preachy.
It’s always so encouraging to see news reports and photos of churches and organizations filling an 18 wheeler with water and others supplies. But what if your church isn’t able to do something on that scale? Do what you can. Do what you can and look for opportunities to partner with others. Connect with other pastors and community leaders. Find out what they’re doing and look for opportunities to partner with them.
When your church members are moved with compassion to help those in need, they will dig in and give from their own reserves. That means their gifts are precious. Be good stewards over the resources offered up by your church members. Make sure those resources reach their destination by depositing them with credible organizations. Give to your denomination or fellowship disaster relief fund. Make a donation to the American Red Cross or another recognized relief organization.
No matter how much or how little anyone contributes to your relief efforts, you must always respect their efforts. Two of the best ways to show your respect to givers are saying “thank you” and celebrating their gifts. People are not obligated to give so always say thank you. People can’t always give the same amounts either so celebrating helps everyone feel they’re making a difference.