A tornado strikes and flattens your church and the neighborhood around it. A preteen commits suicide. A church ministry leader is arrested for drug allegations. A minister has a moral failure. An active shooter is on church campus. An active church family is killed in a car accident. A church staff member is diagnosed with terminal illness.
I have to admit, I didn’t even like typing those scenarios above. I’m definitely more of a rose-colored glasses type of guy, but I understand that it is irresponsible to not have a plan for a crisis. Especially in the church ministry. In every job, there is a need for a plan for a fail-safe in case something bad happens.
When I was in junior high, there was a prediction that the United States would have a huge earthquake on some specific date. I remember at my little school in Durant, Mississippi, we practiced climbing under our desks in case of an earthquake. Schools have drills to prepare kids for what might happen, so why don’t churches.
If you are like many church leaders, and haven’t really developed a crisis reaction plan, here are a few steps to get started:
- Form a Crisis-Response Team. This is a team that you develop now. Form a small group of people who will come together once or twice a year to assess your ministry crisis-preparedness. Since many church crises can include legal issues, consider asking a lawyer to be a part of your team. It would also be valuable to have a counselor from your church be a member of the team.
- Gather handouts, pamphlets, books, resources, and reading lists for different potential crises. Have resources that would be applicable to kids, students, and adults.
- Develop an action plan. Along with your committee members develop a crisis action plan. Put together a planned idea for a general timeline for how you would intend to react when a crisis strikes.
- Understand state laws and church policies. Due to the fact that a potential crises may involve a broken law or abuse, it is important that you are familiar with the state laws and consult an attorney soon after the crisis has occurred.
- Determine a communication plan for the potential crisis and how you will talk with kids, students, and adults. Remember that some crises that your church may face, may seem more “adult” in nature, so you will not communicate with the kids in the same way that you would communicate with the adults. Know your church’s policy for using social media, etc.
Hopefully, you will never have to respond to a crisis of epic proportions during your ministry. However, if you do, it’s my prayer that you will be prepared with a plan for how to respond.
Jeff Land is Publishing Team Leader for Bible Studies For Life: Kids. He hold a BSW from Mississippi College and a MACE from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Jeff has served as children’s pastor and currently teaches second graders each week at his church. Jeff, his wife Abbey, and their four sons live in Coopertown, TN.