When we hear the word “stewardship,” especially when related to church, most of us think about our offering — how much do we give, how often do we give. But stewardship is not only about giving. It’s also about taking good care of the gifts that God has given to us.
We are called to be stewards of God’s creation and everything that lives in and on the Earth. We are called to be stewards for one another, showing love and providing care and service to our neighbors, just as we would have them love us.
Disasters can happen at any time and place, often without warning, and it is vital for each of us to prepare ourselves for the possibility that a disaster could affect us. But what does disaster preparedness have to do with stewardship, you ask? When disasters happen, those people who have taken the time to properly prepare are the most able to quickly and effectively help their neighbors who also may have been affected. Disaster preparedness, then, is a great form of stewardship.
Lutheran Disaster Response has challenged Lutherans everywhere to become a part of the “ReadyChurch” initiative. As Lutherans, we are “called to love and serve the neighbor,” and because being disaster prepared is a great way to do just that, we want all Lutherans to think about how they can be ready for natural disasters.
Plus, being the “ReadyChurch” is quick and easy:
Be informed. Think about the types of natural disasters that your community might be particularly likely to experience. Do you live in the Midwest? Floods are not only likely, but flooding is responsible for more than 75 percent of disaster damages in the United States. Do you live on the Gulf Coast? You probably should have a hurricane plan. Do you live in Oklahoma? Then you should probably have a place to go during a tornado. While disasters are unpredictable, and the best plan is one that is flexible for whatever happens, it makes sense to think about what happens most often in your area.
Make your plan. Once you have thought about the types of disasters that are likely to affect your area, think about what you would do if one happened. Where would your family meet, and how would you communicate? Where would you stay if you couldn’t be in your home? Where would your congregation gather for worship or other events if something happened to your building? These are all important things to think about and write down in a disaster plan that can be referred to quickly and updated regularly.
Build your kit. In the event of a disaster, you might need to be self-sufficient for several days, because there might not be the same access to grocery stores or pharmacies as there is during a normal time. So it’s good to put together a “ReadyKit,” a package of supplies, such as nonperishable food, drinking water, flashlights and batteries, and copies of important papers in a watertight box that you can access if needed. Of course, your kit will need to be opened every year to make sure that nothing has expired or to add more supplies if your family situation has changed. Some folks even build multiple kits so that they can keep one at home, one at the office and one in their car.
See how easy being prepared can be?
And remember, since disasters can happen anywhere and at anytime, it is important to do disaster planning not just at home, but also at work, at school and at church, too.
There are many ways that your congregation can encourage disaster preparedness for members and for the community as a whole:
Host a “Ready Sunday,” when everyone in the congregation is encouraged to bring copies of their household disaster plan or where you update the church phone tree.
Have a fire drill or a tornado drill during the middle of a worship service.
Host a “ReadyKit” drive in which the Sunday school classes collect items for disaster kits that can be assembled and distributed to members of the community that might not be able to afford to build one themselves.
With your help, Lutherans will be known as the “ReadyChurch.” Don’t delay; get ready today!