NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–“If our churches are mission churches, we will be reaching out to people who have problems,” a speaker at the National Preschool and Children’s Convention, said.
Jim Young, director of the Center for Community Ministries of the Baptist General Convention of Texas in Dallas, spoke to a group about “Churches in Crisis.” He defined “crisis” as any traumatic event in which people are beyond their normal ability to cope.
“If you have two people, there is a potential for crisis. When you get three or more people, the odds go way up!” he said.
Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, people have become more conscious of the potential for crises around them, he said.
“Never say, ‘It can’t happen here.'” he said. “It can. Even Jesus said that in the world you will have tribulation. He tells us crises will happen.”
Young said that while people may not be able to anticipate traumatic events, “you can plan for the unimaginable.”
Using the example of a church weekday school program, he asked the group to imagine that they have a child in the program whose father comes to the school to pick up the child. The dad is drunk or on drugs. “He demands you give him his child, but you know it isn’t safe so you refuse. Then the dad pulls a gun and you have a hostage situation. What do you do?”
While anyone would like to think a situation like that would never happen, Young said it could.
“You must have a plan of action. Think about the worst things you can imagine and then think about how you would deal with it.” He said plans need to be in place and everyone associated with the church program needs to be aware of them.
“When you are working with someone in a crisis situation, never be afraid to point that person back to Christ. They may say they don’t even think Christ is there right then, but even that points them back to him,” he said.
Taking into account the groups’ roles as ministers to children, Young pointed out that a child’s reaction to trauma depends a great deal on his caregiver’s reaction. “When the caregiver’s security level is down, the child feels his stability and security are threatened.
“We all function on a sliding scale of security,” Young said. “What one person handles well, another might have a problem dealing with.”
More than 750 people involved in preschool and children’s ministries attended the convention held at the LifeWay complex in Nashville, Tenn. Next year’s convention will be Oct. 14-17.