Whether your congregation is just beginning or expanding a disaster response ministry, it promises to be a transformational experience. Disaster response ministry provides a unique opportunity to love our neighbors in ways that would otherwise not have been possible. It builds bridges. It opens doors into homes, families, and communities in ways we could never have imagined. That is the blessing of disaster response ministry. It can transform receivers, givers, congregations, and the entire community while witnessing God’s gracious love. While no one would wish for any disaster, they come and bring with them an amazing opportunity to give and receive God’s blessing.
A disaster response ministry team is a small group of people who seek to serve the Lord and their congregation’s leadership by helping to prepare the congregation for disaster response and to lead the response when crisis comes. As with other ministry teams, no one person can do it all. It takes a variety of people with complementary gifts and skills for successful disaster response. Volunteers are typically more effective and more likely to continue serving when they are part of a cohesive team.
- Pray together.
- Build your ministry team.
- Develop a plan for your team.
- Consult with your congregation’s leadership.
- Serve together.
- Share leadership opportunities.
- Grow together, spiritually.
- Identify new volunteers.
- Strengthen and empower existing volunteers.
- Become personally prepared for disaster.
How Do You Start?
- Identify team roles.
- Identify potential volunteers already engaged with community outreach.
- Personally invite individuals to join the team.
- Host a disaster response informational meeting for your congregation.
- Host a volunteer gathering, share the vision, and invite participants to consider serving on the disaster response ministry team.
Ministry Team Roles & Responsibilities
The goal of a disaster response ministry team is to equip volunteers from your congregation to be ready to serve during the next disaster. Each team may look different depending on the number of members.
Below are some suggested roles:
Building a Team
Effective ministries are usually led by effective leadership teams. They may still struggle with challenges, but they work together to find solutions. Every individual on your volunteer team plays an important role. Every task someone completes contributes to your team’s overall success and your ability to provide service to others. If you do not have much experience working with teams, do not worry. You can learn the skills you need to build a strong team, in which you and the team can grow together.
10 Steps to Building a Great Team
– Define what team members are expected to do.
– Divide larger objectives into smaller, more manageable ones.
– Make goals SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-bound).
– Make documentation accessible (share files, etc.).
– Encourage teammates to communicate regularly.
– Set priorities, as there will always be more than we are able to do.
– Provide more or less guidance as needed by teammates.
– Pay close attention to the needs of team members as disaster response can be stressful and draining.
– Eliminate barriers.
– Keep the end in mind and the main thing the main thing.
– Coach and encourage your team as needed.
– Affirm, listen, and empathize.
– Resolve conflicts quickly as they arise.
– Address any anxieties with a calm presence.
– Build one another up, and they will build you up as well.
While responding to disasters can be stressful, it can also be a fulfilling time of serving, caring for, and enjoying one another.
You are building a team, which is like a family. Your relationships are as important as the content you cover. Developing meaningful and trusting relationships will help members prioritize the team and its task and feel that their contribution is significant. It also builds sustainable; as has been said, “vision may bring people to the table, but relationships will keep them there.”
Recommendations for Gathering as a Team
Time & Location
- Meet for one to two hours to allow ample time for relational connections, working through the content, and praying together.
- Share a meal to facilitate the deepening of relationships.
- Meet in a home to foster deeper bonding even if the congregation’s facilities are available.
When People Arrive
- Give everyone a warm welcome.
- Provide a comfortable atmosphere, possibly including music, snacks, icebreakers, etc.
Initial Connection (This could happen during the meal.)
- Share testimonies of God’s work in team members’ lives both related and unrelated to disaster response ministry.
- Share challenges to cultivate transparency, empathy, and prayerfulness.
- Pray together to develop powerful (Matt.18:19) and deeper spiritual connections.
Vision, Direction, Objectives
- Share the vision.
- Review the content of meetings and answer questions.
- Identify action items from the meeting and assign them to team members.