Churches And Relief Organizations Have Distinctive Roles In The Wake of Disasters

By Victor Ochieng

Being a pastor is a calling, and it’s not one of those jobs many long for. They must selflessly give their lives and resources to the flock, shepherding them and sharing the gospel with them, and their congregants expect nothing less than a powerful sermon every week. Besides their evangelistic call, pastors are also part of the church’s administration, which means they’ve got to be involved in budget making processes, staff recruitment, maintenance of church facilities, among other numerous programs.

Unfortunately, not so many pastors get enough pay to meet their personal needs, and this became so evident when recently many pastors’ wives said their husbands aren’t paid enough to meet their family needs.

While the responsibilities appear so overwhelming, it’s all confined to successfully managing a church. And in most cases, it works pretty well, with the pastors taking full control and ensuring that everything works correctly.

However, there is a worrying trend that’s witnessed in the wake of storms among other disasters. Church teams are now propagating a belief that they are do-it-all entities, where they want to tackle everything, including those that are evidently outside their calling. This is clearly seen in their responses in the face of disasters and their international missions.

We’ve got churches that get destroyed during disasters. To be rebuilt, resources, including skills, are required. While it’s obvious that such tasks should be committed to those who’ve got the requisite skills and experience, many churches entrust such responsibilities to their congregants without considering their professional ability. But this isn’t just limited to building sanctuaries, it also extends to other areas like disaster response and support those living in chronic poverty and disease. As Richard Stearns puts it in his article posted on Christianity Today, such require specialized skills and there are organizations already handling them.

Stearns warns churches against doing everything on their own when there are already organizations around them that they can work with to get things right. In fact, some are Christian organizations. There is no doubt that churches and faith-based organizations, many of which are headed and run purely by Christians, share the same mission of ensuring “maximum kingdom impact.”

Talking about how God created us with different strengths, the Apostle Paul says, “God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be?” (1 Corinthians 12).

We see that even with the early Christians as recorded in the book of Acts 6. When the widows were being overlooked in the distribution of daily food portions, rather than have the apostles pull out of their daily ministry to handle the issue, Stephen and other seven able men were charged with the responsibility.

The church must realize that proclaiming Kingdom message is more important than the humanitarian works they’re doing at the expense of the ministry. Where within the church there is a department handling such, well and good, but it shouldn’t be that the church leadership is being drawn into such activities to the extent that their evangelistic mission is stifled.