One of the most frequent questions I get is “Can we take our youth group to LERT training?” And my response is always “Certainly, but we can’t certify minors.” Then I tell them ways to get their youth involved in Disaster Response in their congregation but I always get the same response. “But I went to _______ when I was 15 and it was LIFE changing!” My response, “That’s great, thanks for doing that.”
I could go into all the legalese and tell you how our insurance risks are too high if we certify teens, I could even give you examples where other groups have used youth and people have gotten hurt but, instead I’m going to give you some other ways to get your youth involved in Disaster Response.
1. Flood Buckets
Last week I wrote about flood buckets and gave ideas for how to fund a flood bucket project in your congregation. This is a fantastic way to get your youth involved. Take your youth group to Home Depot and turn it into a scavenger hunt. Bring them all back to church, buy them some Pizzas and start stuffing. Finish up with a worship service and/or a quick Bible study and you’ve hit your fellowship, worship, and mercy work in a single event.
2. Vacation Bible School
One of the biggest needs that our young children have after a tragedy is comfort. We have even put together a VBS style curriculum for suffering communities affected by tragedy to use in this very situation. It’s called Camp Courage and your youth can get involved as camp leaders.
Many churches include their children in the choir or have a youth choir. During times of tragedy, singing special hymns or songs that bring comfort can be especially helpful. There are so many hymns based on Scriptural truths that bring spiritual comfort and we want to give you more. Last year we asked composers and hymn writers for a contest to write new hymns of comfort set to public domain tunes. We received over 150 submissions and were able to whittle it down to 1 winner and 5 runners up.
You can download a PDF of those hymns here.
Hymns of comfort invite Christian children to rejoice after receiving the body and blood of Christ with a song of praise and it can help remind them of scriptural truth such as, “nothing in my hand I bring, simply to thy cross I cling.” (TLH 376) Hymns are a beautiful and powerful way to express deep scriptural truths in a memorable way to Christians of all ages.
Here is one of those winning hymns, arranged to a new tune for 4 part choirs.
This one might be the most obvious in the list, but it is so essential. I know from personal experience that when I am going through personal trials that I forget to pray. I get so focused on problem solving that God seems a million miles away. But that doesn’t change the fact that God hears your prayers (even your cries for mercy) and answers them. Think back to a time when you were really struggling. Perhaps you just lost a job, suffered a death in the family, were having troubles with your children and someone simply told you, “I’m praying for you.” This simple sentence, out of the blue, always provides an astounding level of comfort. During Sunday school, bring your children together in prayer and pray for that church that was just destroyed by a natural disasters. Consider making cards that have a pleasant picture, a scripture passage, and a quick word of comfort that says, “We’re praying for you.” While having teams of volunteers come to do the heavy lifting can be very helpful, the knowledge that you are in the prayers of churches all over the country can give comfort.
These are just a few ideas
The list of possibilities is nearly endless, you just have to use your imagination. Hopefully, if you haven’t yet, this gave you some ideas for getting your youth involved in disaster response. Do you have any other ideas? I would love to hear about them. Join our Facebook discussion group and send an email to Disater@lcms.org to request free packet of resources to share with your congregation.