Home Church How to Shepherd in the Aftermath of a Disaster By LifeWay | Pastors

How to Shepherd in the Aftermath of a Disaster By LifeWay | Pastors

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Today’s post is by David Crosby, pastor of First Baptist Church of New Orleans, Louisiana, who shepherded his flock and others in his community in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Following any disaster, pastors find there are spiritual and emotional needs of persons in their community who may have experienced life-changing disaster, as well as the needs of the church itself. How we shepherd through these times will have both immediate and lasting impact in people’s lives.

Determine where your people are and how they are doing. Do this systematically. You don’t want to overlook anyone, and everyone wants the church to be thorough in its care for all members. We developed a social media site—such as they were back then—to help our people in their dialogues. People posted on the website how and what they were doing. There was a lot of uncertainty about who was back and who was not, who had flooded and who had not.

The staff was also a point of great concern–where they were and how they were doing. We lost half of our ministry staff either immediately after the storm or shortly thereafter. You may want to post a report on the status of your church staff.

The importance of fellowship and sharing experiences cannot be overstated. Our people wanted to talk to one another when they came to church, catching up on damage assessment and current status. We decided to let them talk and started our services 10-20 minutes after the advertised start time for a couple of months. We didn’t tell anyone we were doing this. But the roar of conversation before church indicated to us that it was a deep need for our people.

Be prepared for a lot of tears near the surface. We all wept through the first couple of worship services. The songs moved us in unusual ways. Some of them I just couldn’t sing. But they were very helpful in acknowledging the suffering we were going through and setting it in the context of our faith.

Encourage prayer. Our invitation time after the message was much more about praying for one another. The public prayers were also about persons in our faith community and needs that were close to us as well as prayer for the larger community.

Understand the overwhelming needs. Every day is a brand new avalanche of need. You cannot keep up with it all. And you will not be getting much regular church work done for a while.We gave up on planning things and just lived one minute at a time. We prayed together and worked together. Your staff and key volunteers will want to be out there helping people. We all led volunteer teams in the mud out effort.

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