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Responding to people’s crises called key ministry opportunity

RIDGECREST, N.C. (BP)–Crises in people’s lives should not become missed opportunities for ministry.

Especially a Sunday school.

“We’ve got to be ready. If there is a crisis and no one responds, [Sunday school members] will drop out. The tragedy is, they send out a red flag but we never hear the siren,” said Richard Dodge, adult ministry consultant in the adult Sunday school department of LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Speaking to a group at Ridgecrest, a LifeWay Conference Center, in North Carolina on ministering in times of crisis, Dodge said crises will bring on stress.

“There is good stress and there’s bad stress,” he said during a National Sunday School Leadership Week session. “Crises don’t necessarily have to be brought on by bad things, not at all. Good things can be stressful for us as well. A crisis is any significant turning point in life.”

When people in Sunday school classes experience crises, the other class members need to be ready to minister, Dodge said.

“Someone in each class needs to be responsible for taking charge of ministering in a crisis,” he said. “The church family should be the first line of response in an emergency when family is far away.”

Prospects not yet enrolled in the class need to be assigned for any needed ministry, Dodge added. “Two absences in a row from Sunday school should be a red flag. Make that contact after that second Sunday.”

Look to Jesus as the role model in how to handle a crisis, Dodge urged. A review of Scripture will show that in times of crises, Jesus did the following:

— had compassion.

— accepted people.

— gave people worth.

— met people’s needs.

— used the right words.

— emphasized the right behavior.

— sought to have people accept responsibility.

— encouraged people.

— emphasized peace of mind.

— helped reshape or refurbish how people thought.

— taught.

— spoke with authority.

— confronted as appropriate.

Dodge told the group it’s important to use an effective organizational structure such as Sunday school to make sure ministry needs are met and not missed.

“That is where in the church you already have the small groups,” he said. “You should already have relationships established. Just make sure that arranging for this ministry is the job of someone in particular.

“Nothing becomes dynamic until it becomes specific,” Dodge noted. “Give someone a job and the freedom to do it. Don’t expect anyone else to do a job just like you would.”

In ministering, Dodge said, never stop someone from expressing emotion. “It’s part of the healing process. People handle stress differently,” he said, “but they need to handle it in a way that is appropriate for them. We just need to be there for them.”
(BP) photo to be posted in the BP Photo Library at www.sbcbaptistpress.org.

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  • Polly House