You get a call in the middle of the night. A flood has hit your community. Your church building has sustained some minor damage, but many in your congregation and community have sustained significant damage to their homes. They’re wondering where to go, and your church is already receiving phone calls wondering if you’re open for shelter. What would it cost for your church to open up and provide basic shelter for a night? For a week? For longer? And would you be prepared to provide support services to those in your congregation and community?
When most churches think of “disaster preparedness,” what comes to mind is a lump sum of money raised and then set aside for a literal rainy day. This money collects dust until the day it can be used on building repairs necessitated by storm damage. While such a fund can certainly come in handy for those churches with the resources to support it, I believe that any church can make steps toward preparedness by building preparedness into their budget from the ground up. In fact, I believe this mindset—and the process it takes to work toward it—allows churches to become better versions of themselves before, during, and after an event. This kind of financial preparedness must begin with reframing how your congregation and church leadership—and especially your finance committee—thinks about disaster preparedness.
Don’t just think in terms of a “disaster budget”
While the idea of setting aside a dedicated disaster reserve may work for a large congregation, most smaller churches find it difficult to set aside money for a future emergency. Rather than thinking about setting aside a lump sum of money, most churches can make steps toward preparedness by building disaster preparedness into their annual budgets. This kind of financial preparedness must begin with reframing how your congregation and church leadership—and especially your finance committee—thinks about disaster preparedness.