Tips for Organizing a Disaster Response Team from Your Church
by Paul Childress, Deacon, Columbia Presbyterian Church, Columbia, MD (September 2018)
Paul Childress has organized a number of disaster response teams from his church, and he shares some pointers on how to go about it.
Serving on a disaster relief team or short-term missions team is an opportunity to live out your faith by working at the intersection of the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.
- If you feel the Lord prompting you to help with a service project or disaster relief effort, stop thinking and start praying!
- Seek counsel from your pastor, elders, and deacons. If all signs are a go, you can begin the process of helping to organize a trip.
Consult Your Diaconate:
- Reach out to your deacon board to see if they can help promote the need and lend their support.
- Are they willing to be on the team?
- Are they able to help with some of the financial support for the team?
Use Denominational Resources:
- The OPC Disaster Response Coordinator (David.Nakhla@opc.org) and Disaster Response website (OPCDisasterResponse.org) are great resources for finding out about the specific projects that are in need of teams, skill levels required, housing/meal arrangements, transportation, and material needs.
- You will want to gather as many details about the project as possible so you can inform potential team members at your initial meeting.
Schedule a Meeting:
- Schedule a brief initial meeting for those interested in learning more about serving.
- A good time for the meeting might be right after a Sunday morning service.
- Have as much information as possible in print form so folks can review and talk with their families after the meeting.
- You will want to have any costs associated with the trip available at the meeting.
- Please stress that any project is more about the people, not just the work.
- Once people have expressed interest in serving, you will want to assess the skill level of each team member.
- The OPC Disaster Response team can help you with assessing your team’s skill level.
Prepare Your Team:
- You want to make sure your team members understand that they are serving people who have experienced a great tragedy in their life.
- Flexibility is crucial for any disaster relief or other short-term mission work. You never know what God might bring your way or ask you to do.
- Be ready for the unexpected by eliminating preconceived expectations.
- A willing spirit and open mind will enable wonderful engagements between you, your team members, and the homeowners or others you are going to serve.