I have worked in a lot of different ministries over the years but have never started one. Initially, I did not know where to begin, which is odd since I have worked as a organizational coach in the not too distant past. Since I have helped many clients get “unstuck”, I just started to use the process on myself.
First thing I needed to do was put a team together. Bill and Mary (hows that for generic names!) from our small group were willing volunteers and we became the Emergency Preparedness Team. We were to add more volunteers as time went on.
Since I wasn’t keen on reinventing the wheel, I started calling other churches of my denomination who were south of me and were listed as emergency ready churches. Unfortunately, I was not able to learn anything useful. One church I called did not know what I was talking about. Another knew what I was talking about but the person I needed to speak with was not in. Another church had another number for me to call. Once I called that number, I felt like I hit the jack pot! I told this church secretary about our plans to start an emergency preparedness ministry. She told me they would be watching us and would follow our lead.
WHAT? I hadn’t planned on being the program leader. I had called to follow their lead! Funny how those things turn out. I also learned that this ministry was so new, no one knew how to approach it, but the denomination was offering a one day training session in two weeks. Bill, Mary and I promptly signed up.
Our training day was immensely eye opening, inspiring and jam packed with information. We left with a whole list of agendas to work on. Our class was taught by representatives from the local Department of Emergency Management and local law enforcement agencies. The following were our take-aways.
- Determine our most likely disaster scenario(s)
- Make plans for each scenario. Plan for the worst, hope for the best. Resist the easy road of oversimplifying our plans. Detailed plans including who, what, where and when will play out much better in times of disaster
- In a major regional disaster such as a mega earthquake, no one will arrive to help you for at least 10 to 14 days……ABSOLUTELY NO ONE!
- Think about disasters that we normally don’t think of as disasters. Like an active shooter or violence against the pastor.
- Consider preventive measures. In a church setting, this would include defibrillators, training on fire extinguishers, and monitoring of halls and parking lots.
- Gather info from our city council members, fire and police departments as well as our county emergency management system to find out what the needs are.
- And lastly, and probably most important, the realization that if I (we) don’t prepare, I become a liability…..just another person standing in the FEMA line. This would seriously hamper my ability to help others, if not totally prevent it.