Don’t Waste a Crisis

A recent article posted on The Presbyterian Outlook website, “Don’t Waste a Crisis,” by the Rev. Rebecca Messman, reflects on our response as a congregation to Hurricane Sandy by opening the Volunteer Village.

Becca is associate pastor of the Herndon, Virginia Presbyterian Church. She wrote the article after staying for a night in our Volunteer Village, along with the youth group from her church. The Presbyterian Outlook is an independent magazine serving the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

Becca’s group had stayed for a week at another location, in Monmouth County, close to the site of their volunteer housing-repair work in the Keyport area. They spent the last night of their mission trip here in Point Pleasant Beach, as they relaxed and debriefed from their experience. She was struck by the fact that we have decided to re-purpose the space on the stage in the Education Annex for the showers that are being used by volunteer work groups.

Here’s the conclusion from the article:

Despite its ominous associations, crisis comes from the Greek word krino, meaning “to decide, to judge.” A crisis is a decision point. Installing somewhat permanent showers on a Fellowship Hall stage as opposed to allowing it to remain a collection of boxes represents a mission-minded decision. It represents a judgment about who the church will be in the community and in the world. Someone in a committee meeting in that church had to have the courage to say, “I know that VBS or the local jazz ensemble may use the stage once and a while, I know its not something other churches have done, I know its going to take a lot of flexibility, I know its not cheap or temporary, but this is where our church is called to be.” As the saying goes, “Don’t waste a crisis.”

What happened on that stage in the midst of a particular crisis can be a guide for how a church responds to any crisis, be it tragedy in the neighborhood, the departure of a pastor, the demise of a church budget, or the steady decline of a denomination. The question is usually the same regardless of the nature of the crisis. Do we choose to hear the cries of our neighbors and equip people to serve in Christ’s name, or do we continue to move around boxes of ministries from years past because its too hard to make lasting decisions? I think both decisions take tremendous energy but one results in renewal and cleansing and refreshment for an entire community.