Disaster preparedness — for all weather possibilities — is a good strategy for every church. Simply put: Disorganization breeds chaos, but having a carefully planned response to any and all weather conditions can put minds at ease and enable the congregation and church giving to carry on in the event of bad weather.
Considering the fact that winter is just around the corner — and with it, the possibility of snow and ice — here are three questions to ask when building a winter preparedness plan for your church.
1. Do you have an inclement weather policy in place?
The extent of a snow plan for many churches is simple: The pastor (or secretary) takes a glance out the front window and determines “how it looks.” Then, if the service is cancelled, the news filters out by word-of-mouth or through a single post on Facebook. This is probably not a sufficient long-term strategy, and someone is likely to not get the message and try to make their way to church in dangerous conditions. Come up with a plan ahead of time for how you will deal with inclement weather, and how you will communicate cancellations to your membership.
One great idea is to create a phone number via the church’s phone lines that the congregation knows it can call in the event of questionable weather. Then a simple recorded message explaining the cancellation — along with any other plans, like how to participate in church giving — can be shared in a single place that is accessible to everyone. The information should also be posted on the church website, along with social media updates.
2. Do you have a back-up plan for the service in the event of poor weather?
Historically, when services have been cancelled for bad weather, church is skipped entirely and everyone finds other ways to fill the time. With today’s advancements in technology, it is possible for the church to still “meet” without anyone leaving their homes.
With options like Facebook Live, the pastor (or a member of the staff) can bring a few words of encouragement as the congregation watches online. If a live online service isn’t a possibility, church members can be encouraged to listen to pre-recorded sermons or studies as directed by the leadership. Cancelled services no longer have to mean skipping church entirely.
3. How do you encourage church giving if the service is cancelled?
Your members want to consistently participate in church giving — even when it snows. What can you do to allow them to give when the weather is bad and they are stuck at home? Again, thanks to technology, church giving doesn’t have to wait until people enter the church building. Mobile and online giving options make it easy for members to make an offering from afar.
On a day when the weather is bad and church members are encouraged to stay safe at home, church leadership can easily send out a link to the church’s online giving form via social media or a church-wide e-mail. If pastors bring a message via Facebook Live (see point 2 above), they can let the congregation know how to contribute an offering using their smartphone or computer.
The bad news? Winter weather can be highly disruptive to your church’s plans.
The good news? Winter weather doesn’t need to signal lost time or funds for church families. Today, pastors and church congregations can still fellowship together and participate in church giving even when services are cancelled. It has never been easier to meet (and give!) from the comfort and safety of home.