How can or should your church respond in the wake of a crisis situation like the Uvalde, Texas school shooting?

As crisis situations occur, it is easy for churches to default in their crisis communication. But this is not a time for defaulting or, worse, not saying anything at all. When there is a crisis like the shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas, it is a time for the church to be fully present. To step into the crisis compassionately and willingly. To bring hope and healing. 

As simple as it is for us to type those words, we know that this isn't simple for your church. To help you navigate all of this, here are seven things your church can do right now to show up for the people of your community in the midst of the Uvalde crisis. 

  1. Check your scheduled social posts and ads; then plan your digital content
    Cancel or postpone anything that sounds tone deaf. Instead, consider what you will post digitally today and in the coming days to offer empathy, encouragement and support. 

  2. Pray … and act 
    Prayer is a powerful action we need to take! But let's not make a call to prayer your only public comment. (Many churches default to only posting graphics that invite people to pray.) Let's also consider what we can do. Is there a place online or in person where people can receive prayer, support, process their concerns and grief, and take other next steps? (Thinking through what is appropriate for your context and community is really important here.)

  3. Offer to be at your local school as an extra counselor or support
    Children in your community may have gone to school scared today. Parents are unsettled. Teachers are upset. Administrators need an outlet to process grief. Can you be that outlet? If they are open to it, can your church send lunch or coffee to teachers as a way to show you care? 

  4. Send a message to your parents about how to help their kids navigate the fear
    No matter the size of your church, you are directly connected to families. Many parents are on edge today. Write up an article or email that offers encouragement and advice on how they can best support their children and their own mental health during times like this.

  5. Partner with other churches and organizations on taking steps toward better mental health care
    What can you do in partnership with other churches in your area to offer real, tangible help to people struggling? How can you partner with local therapists to help parents know how to identify and help their children? 

  6. Say and do something during your weekend services 

    Consider what you will say and offer through your upcoming weekend services ... space, prayers, encouragement and next steps (again, given your context and community).

  7. Don't stop after today 
    Put a longer-term plan together for how you want to be present in your community, in your schools, and with important issues moving forward. Consider offering a support group this summer where adults (parents, teachers, etc.) can process together, find support and act to bring change. 

Unfortunately, it's inevitable that your church and community will face a crisis situation at some point. If you haven't put together a Crisis Communication Plan, we strongly urge you to plan for and document what you will do in a crisis situation. Here is a free outline you can use to develop a Crisis Communications Plan.