This post, written by Kate Wiebe, originally was published on August 8, 2016, on the ICTG blog.
Start by building relationships. Whether it's a local family's emergency, a community-wide disaster, or another terror attack – there are things you and your congregation leaders can be doing now to prepare well to respond to a wide range of trauma or disasters.
Your insurance company, and denomination leaders (if applicable), will encourage you to have emergency plans, protocols, and flip-charts in place. Those are important and helpful measures to take to get prepared.
But the communities that really thrive after trauma are the ones who have built strong, caring relationships before the tragedy strikes. While they may utilize emergency plans and flipcharts, more than those, they rely on what leadership guru Steven Covey famously called the speed of trust. Trust occurs within established relationships. Relationships where people have met and taken time to learn about one another's circumstances and value.
Communities that thrive after disaster, for example, already have up-to-date phone practices to check each member is out of harm's way. Leaders of these types of communities know their peers – restaurant owners, police and firefighters, local social workers, counselors, lawyers, and accountants. When they need to call someone in an emergency, the leaders in communities that thrive after disaster have already shaken hands with the people they must now call. They might not be best friends, but they at least are familiar acquaintances.
While preparation in part involves designing and practicing new protocols, even more so it involves building reliable, trustworthy relationships.
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