Last week, Bishop Mike Rinehart of the Gulf Coast Synod of the Evangelical Church in America led our quarterly HIDRA roundtable conversation. Each conversation always takes on a life of its own, but this one was primarily focused on how to be ready to do ministry when our usual means of doing ministry are compromised. (You can find the outline of his presentation, along with some of his suggested resources here).
One story he told stuck with me. It was about driving through Baton Rouge after Hurricane Gustav and noticing that the churches seemed to fit into one of three categories. (I'm paraphrasing here, so I apologize now for any misrepresentations). First, there were those that had empty parking lots and locked up doors--the assumption being that members of these communities were busy taking care of their own households. The second category was those churches that had some activity going on at their location--primarily dealing with whatever the needs of that building might be. And the third category were those churches that had tents set up in the parking lots handing out water or food or electricity--finding ways to meet the immediate needs of the community in which they found themselves.
Each of these categories is a legitimate place to be, but the Bishop challenged us to think about how our faith community can move from being in the first category to being poised to be in the third. How can we be prepared to set up the tents after the storm? It takes some intentional planning ahead of time, but if we're serious about being places of sanctuary and hospitality, shouldn't we do precisely that?
Who, in your setting, is thinking about these things? Who COULD be thinking about these ideas? What are some of the more creative ways you have seen faith communities "set up tents" after a disaster?