As a crisis chaplain and pastor, I’ve worked to help churches avoid problems that could result in a crisis. Here is a quick look at the four areas where trouble for churches lurk.
Administration. Far too many churches have no bylaws or haven’t bothered to consult them in years. The same person who counts the offering writes the checks and keeps the books. Nobody is sure what insurance policies cover, and there is no coverage for counseling or directors’ liability. There is no written employment agreement for paid employees, and pastor’s tax status is incorrect. These are just a few ways that trouble can enter.
Trauma. While this is the gateway that grabs our attention, it is actually the least likely way that we will experience trouble. These are unexpected events that usually come by surprise. A bus wreck. A tornado that strikes the church or members’ homes. A gunman invades a worship service. A young person drowns at church camp. This type event will reach much further than just simply dealing with the losses that are incurred.
Maintenance. How many unused church busses do you have sitting on your property that children can get into? Are your sidewalks uneven creating a trip hazard? Are all those half-used gallons of paint stored in closets where anybody can get them? Is your parking lot well lit? Can anyone access your kitchen? Is the door to the baptistry kept locked?
Security. Are all windows and doors easily secured? Are there places on your property, such as landscaping or fencing, that provide cover for people who would do you harm? Can people access your buildings undetected during events? Is your nursery located next to an exit? Do you keep offerings in a secure place? Is your computer network protected?
This is by no means a complete list, but you get the idea. There are many ways that trouble can get to your church.
When trouble does strike, very little thought is given to providing care for the church’s most important asset: its members. Nearly every major issue that effects a church will negatively impact the individuals who make up that congregation. They will lose trust and confidence in leaders they once held in high esteem. They may feel that the process they trusted did not work. They may even believe that God is angry with them or has judged them for something in their past. It is important that the church has a plan in place to take care of their people before a crisis occurs.
We are working to rebuild our crisischaplain.us site where we will focus on helping churches do what they can to minimize the damage that crisis brings. We have also developed a course to assist churches in establishing a crisis support plan called When Crisis Come To Church. You can email me or leave a message below if you want more information about either.
You can’t keep trouble away, but by taking deliberate steps you can make sure it doesn’t devastate your congregation. Start creating your plan today. Contact me if you don’t know where to start. ([email protected]) Regardless of the size of your church, you can put a plan in place that will make all the difference when a crisis hits.