Handling a Crisis

Pastors, along with chaplains, are called to respond to crisis situations. When leaving to handle a crisis, you don’t have time to pack heavy. Based on my experience as a police chaplain, the short list below contains a few things you can carry into a crisis situation.

1. Be strong in the Lord (Ephesians 6:10). This is not pie-in-the-sky spirituality, but substantive truth that I ingest on my way to a crisis that I’m going into blind. It works.

2. Figure it out. There are different kinds of crises—those of sorrow and those of sin. Was this person just caught in an FBI child porn sting? Was it a suicide? Did a child just drown in a bathtub? Your approach varies in each situation.

3. Normalize the abnormal. When a person or family has been traumatized, the wave of emotions from A to Z is normal. The circumstance is abnormal, but the emotions they are reeling from are normal. They need to hear that point of understanding and perspective from you.

4. You won’t fix everything. The best definition of a chaplain I have come across is that a chaplain is “a presence, not a force.” Don’t underestimate the value of your just being there.

5. At an appropriate time, take charge of the situation and pray. Like nothing else, prayer immediately transfers the traumatized person from the place of hurt to the place of hope. Never sell that truth short in its power to help.

Donald A. Shirk, pastor and chaplain
Grace Baptist Church
Batavia Police Department
Batavia, N.Y.

Encouraging Class Attendance

“What can I do to motivate people to attend my class?”–Probably this question has crossed your mind a time or two while teaching. Though a multitude of factors influence students’ attendance, you can do your part as a teacher to make the class an enjoyable experience–a place where students want to return. Your teaching behavior can help make your classroom a “wanna be” place!

By using the following teaching practices, you can pave the way for students to return:

• Greet people enthusiastically. Arrive in class early and greet each person by name as they enter. Communicate to them through your words and demeanor that you are glad to see them!

• Emphasize people’s strengths in learning and living. Students will be more likely to return to class when they believe that they can make valuable contributions. Get to know individuals on a personal level. Seek out each person’s passions, abilities, and gifts. Provide opportunities for each believer to contribute, enabled by the Lord.

Develop classroom routines. Certain personality types crave order and predictability. Establish a pattern for your class-an opening, middle, and wrap-up. You can vary your teaching methods,  but by following a certain progression in your classroom events, you will reassure those individuals who prefer routines. It’s easier for a creative person to adjust to order, than for an orderly person to adjust to randomness.

• Vary teaching techniques. Within the structure of your classroom, use a variety of teaching methods from week-to-week to communicate your lesson theme. Chose curriculum that is not only doctrinally sound, but includes the “how tos” of presenting material using various methods. Don’t be afraid to try new approaches in teaching the lesson. You will tap into different ways that people learn by using various teaching techniques and you will keep them engaged in learning.

• Encourage participation. Ask open-ended questions, take opinion or action polls, give students choices, involve them in learning activities, enlist their help in presenting the lesson, recruit their provision of refreshments, and involve them in planning class get-togethers. When people get actively involved, they gain a sense of ownership and identification with the class.

• Promote friendships within the class. Provide opportunities for people to visit informally in class, work together in learning activities or in ministry projects, and fellowship together during class parties. Encourage students to pray and care for one another. Prompt them to provide special help with food or transportation for one another when sickness or hardship occurs. As people get to know one another, they will enjoy attending class and connecting with friends.

By regularly participating in Bible class, students have the opportunity to learn more of the whole counsel of God and to deepen their walk with the Lord. When people feel valued and needed, they are more likely to return.

Daria Greening, GARBC executive assistant
Schaumburg, Ill.