Mobilizing Natural Relationships Groups
to Help with Disasters
Natural Relationships Groups ("Energy Group" for short, as saying "N-R-G" sounds like "Energy") are the very best way for a church to deal with any emergency situation, but especially when there is widespread disaster and an overwhelming number of people to help.
An Energy (NRG) Group is made up of the person or family in distress and 4 to 10 of the family’s or individual’s closest Christian friends and relatives who are available in the geographic area. In effect, it is the local inner circle of supportive believing people. (That's why we call them Natural Relationships Groups = NRG or Energy Groups.)
Consider the present Superstorm Sandy disaster. Because of the severe extent of damage, a church will not be able to do the many things that will be necessary, perhaps for months. Therefore, please consider how Disaster Energy Groups can go so much further.
Disaster Energy Groups are a modification of the Energy Groups we suggest churches use for the few urgent and emergency situations a few church members may be facing. (You can learn about these regular Energy Groups in our article titled Helping a Long-Unemployed Father Finally Get a Job.) We suggest that these groups be composed of Christians, or at least primarily so. Disaster Energy Groups, of necessity, will often be made up largely of those outside of the faith, but led by a group leader from your church.
There are many advantages to helping disaster victims with a group approach. Here are just a few obvious benefits:
1. There will be a tremendous increase in the variety and amount of help available to victims. The single purpose of the Disaster Energy Group to focus the effort of many people to help the disaster victim (family or individual). Group members will know other people who might be able to contribute whatever is needed. Synergy within the group and networking outside of the group will geometrically expand the help of your church. In providing the leader of the Disaster Energy Group, your church will be absolutely invaluable -- if the leader follows the empowering group leadership method we teach free on this website.
2. The energy of the church will not be depleted. Yet, church members will know that disaster victims are getting superior help from their church.
3. Some things will be provided by the Disaster Energy Group without the continual need to recruit people to help. These will be food and money, respite relief to the host family, invitations to meals and fun times at the homes of DEG members, etc.`
If I were the pastor in a town or neighborhood trying to rebuild after hurricane and flood damage and had a number of distressed and displaced victims to help, I would recruit one of my strongest, most compassionate elders to head our Disaster Energy Groups Intervention. Then, I would list all of the
victim families and individuals the church needed to help over the next many months. The Director of our Disaster Energy Groups would then ask these people to list the people they are closest to, minus those who are also in distress. If they are Christians, I would ask for only the list of Christians they are close to plus a couple of non-believing friends and/or family to make up a group of up to 10 people.
I would ask the Director of the Disaster Energy Groups to assign one church member with at least a little leadership skill to each family or person with huge problems to solve. The Director would recruit these leaders and let each of them know that they are needed to serve as a Disaster Energy Group Leader for as long as it takes. The task would not be to help solve the distressed person’s or family’s situation, but to lead the group that would do the helping. I would explain that each Disaster Energy Group is made up of the people most invested in helping the distressed family or person survive and recover from the losses.
I would ask these Disaster Group Leaders to go through the free online Small Group and Team Leadership Training provided by us, the Lamb’s Bride Project. This training will help them focus their effort on building a team up to the challenges of putting a person or family back in operation. (You can get to the training at the top of this page.)
Each Disaster Energy Group Leader would call a meeting of the members of the Energy Group to which he or she is assigned. At that meeting, he or she would invite a family’s or person’s closest friends and relatives to join together to form a team that will see the family or person through to the end of disaster recovery. (Our training will spell out what the Disaster Leader does. Our blog specifically designed for Energy Groups will provide additional help by answering questions on group leadership.)
The work of the Disaster Energy Group, with the help of the leader, will be to help the disaster victim family or individual with whatever is needed. Some of the things that will be needed over a period of several weeks or months are: emotional support, interim housing, lifestyle planning for while displaced as well as for the future after recovery, financial help, relationship intervention, etc.
The Director of the Disaster Energy Group Intervention would hold Disaster Leaders’ Meetings regularly. At those meetings, Group Leaders would help each other with their tasks of leading their groups.
There are a number of advantages to this approach.
1 Usually in a disaster one or two people will try to carry the burden of helping. Over the long run, they will be overwhelmed. Many will drop out of helping, leaving the victims stranded. Proper leadership of the Disaster Energy Group will prevent this shrinking of resources by burnout.
2 More heads will come up with more ideas to evaluate. Furthermore, participation in an Energy Group can bring life-changing spiritual and emotional growth for the group members who are helping the victims. (See our article titled Helping a Long-Unemployed Father Finally Get a Job.)
3 The church will be more able to go about its normal mission and activities which will provide a sense of stability to church members, especially those serving on Disaster Energy Groups.
4 Christian friends of victim or host who join a Disaster Energy Group will see how your church takes charge to get things done when life gets really tough. Some of them without a church home or with only minimal attachment to a church will decide to join your church. Because of their involvement in the Disaster Energy Group, they will come expecting to be put to work for the Lord. Because of this, they will make pretty good church members.
5 Non-Christians included in a Disaster Energy Group will see what Christianity is all about. Some of them may become interested in Jesus Christ and accept his salvation.
6 Your church will make a much bigger contribution to the recovery of your community than ever before imagined.
Unique Situations & Recommendations
Displaced people living away from the location of their closest friends and relatives.
Perhaps a family that lost its house is displaced by many miles and is living with friends or relatives who go to your church. Or maybe there is such a situation in the home of one of your church member's friends or family.
In this case, those with the greatest stake in seeing the family get back on their feet are not close by. The church can still set up a Disaster Energy Group to help, but it will have to be made up of the Inner Circle of the host family. The friends and relatives of the host family want the host family to successfully navigate sharing their home for a long time. Since the best way to aid that situation is to help the displaced family get into their own home and manage their situation successfully, this Disaster Energy Group has two purposes: (1) support the host family which is their friend and (2) help the disaster victim.
In Energy Group Meetings the host family is helped through whatever intervention is needed to deter burnout, assure respite time for the family to be alone for activities that will sustain good relationships, share additional expenses to host the displaced family, etc.
The Disaster Energy Group also helps the displaced family or individual the same way as described above.
See our article on
How to Start a Disaster Energy Group
How to Start a Disaster Energy Group
Suggestions are very specific and then you can learn more by taking our free training on Group and Team Leadership.
You can also
Send us your questions using our Contact Form.
Send us your questions using our Contact Form.
Copyright 2012 Dick Wulf, Colorado, USA