Teams from five districts and the Synod’s International Center have been trained or are being trained for crisis management, thanks to a $32,283 grant to the Board for Communication Services from Thrivent Financial for Lutherans.
“It is very important that the LCMS have a carefully thought-through plan to deal with crises that affect the organization,” said Rev. J. Thomas Lapacka, the board’s executive director.
Lapacka defines a crisis as “any event that disrupts or has the potential to disrupt the mission and ministry of the church with the threat of disaffecting its members and damaging the church’s good public reputation.”
He said such events could be sudden, such as fire or a natural disaster, or “smouldering — a crisis in formation” — for instance, cases of misappropriation of funds or sexual abuse involving church workers.
Lapacka said the crisis-management training involves a one-day seminar and half-day “drill” which helps those in training deal with a hypothetical crisis.
The training, according to David Strand, director of public affairs for the BCS, “involves such topics as the sources and kinds of crisis most likely to strike the church, the realities and dangers of dealing with crisis, setting up a crisis team and command center, identifying key audiences among stakeholders, developing messages for those audiences, and working under pressure with the media.”
So far, Lapacka said, training has been completed or is in process at the Synod’s International Center in St. Louis and in the Northwest, Southern, Mid-South, New Jersey and Indiana districts.
“This is all still very new,” Lapacka said, adding that he expects other districts to “express interest in training teams.”
“Crisis-management training is like an insurance policy,” Lapacka said. “You may be reluctant to invest in one before something happens, but the payoff makes it worthwhile when an accident happens.”
Posted Oct. 28, 2004