What Needs To Be Done?
There are numerous books available to assist people who have begun to prepare themselves for the coming catastrophe. Indeed, prepping has become an “industry” in some respects, as many have come to the realization that the government will not be able to step in and solve everyone’s problems in the face of a true national disaster. Just ask the folks in New Orleans who suffered through the comparatively short-term disaster of Hurricane Katrina. At the end of this article, I will provide a brief and rather incomplete bibliography of some of the publications that I have found most helpful.
What follows is a brief outline of things that pastors and congregations can do to help each other prepare for the likely coming disaster.
- Every individual family in the congregation needs to prepare for their own survival:
This is not the time to become a Lutheran “commune” in which all resources are pooled together and commonly used. Such an approach might work if all your members lived on a common plot of land, but to my knowledge no congregation does! Distance between members and distance from the church facilities normally dictates acting independently as families. However, for those who do not have the means to prepare, the community/family of the congregation need to assist while letting each family also take responsibility for themselves to the greatest extent possible.
- Prepping for families focuses on basic needs for survival:
- Obtaining an available supply of safe drinking water.
- Advance obtaining of food suitable for long-term storage.
- Cultivating the ability to raise various kinds of food on an on-going basis.
- Obtaining of specific tools that do not require electricity to operate.
- Obtaining of extensive first aid training and equipment.
- Ability to defend one’s self and family against looting raiders.
- Prepping as a congregation will be very different for urban and rural congregations.
Perhaps the last place anyone would want to be in the event of a catastrophic event such as those discussed above is in a large metropolitan area or anywhere near an Interstate Highway. Within 24 to 72 hours following an EMP, for example, most grocery stores will be completely stripped of their products and no more will be coming in. Within two weeks, most people will use up whatever food they normally have in the house and serious looting and scavenging will begin. Large urban areas already experience high crime rates, gang violence, and random shootings. Well armed, organized gangs already exist in the cities, and when disaster strikes they will be the ones most equipped to survive but at the expense of others.
By the end of two weeks, most law enforcement will be totally overwhelmed and unable to respond to calls for help, especially in the cities. Moreover, there will be no telephone service to make that call. For the same reasons, there will be no health services available for the victims of such crimes or for injuries incurred for any other reason. Virtually everyone will be on their own. The government will not be coming to your rescue.
Once the cities have been looted of goods, the Interstate Highways will become what many preparedness writers have described as “Highways of Death”. As gangs of looters range out of the cities, any home or community adjacent to any Interstate or other major Highway will become the next targets of choice. The longer such gangs exist, the more experienced and ruthless they will become. It would behoove any town adjacent to a large metropolitan area or near any major highway to take extraordinary measures to protect their community.
This is precisely why many preppers have gone to the extreme measure of relocating their families to more rural areas. Obviously, it’s not likely that entire congregations can do that, so they must become self-sustaining, self-defending, extended families within urban and rural areas to the greatest extent possible. Families may need to double up and combine resources for both subsistence and self-defense. This will be true for both rural and urban congregations. It might be well for families living in more exposed and vulnerable housing to make plans in advance with willing congregational families living in more isolated and less vulnerable housing to double up together when a crisis begins. Prepping supplies might well be pre-positioned at the retreat setting for those families willing and able to double up. Plans within urban and rural congregations need to be well thought out and executed in such fashion that when disaster strikes they are prepared to act as one to help one another through it. Special attention should be given to single parent families, widows, and others with special needs to arrange for alternative housing with other congregational members.
- Extraordinary measures to ensure that God’s people are served with Word and Sacrament ministry by a properly called pastor may need to be taken:
For more rural congregations and communities the possibilities are much improved. Rural areas are already filled with folks to see their communities as a kind of extended family to which loyalty and responsibility is owed. Such congregations and communities can work together much easier in the face of calamity to help each other out, defend their communities from outside looters, arrange for local law and order, and do what needs to be done to retain the fabric and character of civilization to the greatest extent possible.
For congregations in any location whose members live at distances from the church facilities that are simply too far to walk, plans will need to be made for the establishment of home churches in the parish. It is suggested that pastors work with heads of households to prepare themselves for conducting worship for their families for at least the first year of the crisis. This will require the pre-crisis congregation to offer training, materials, and guidance on the best way to accomplish this goal. If possible, the original called pastor of the local pre-crisis congregation could act as a “circuit rider” traveling from home church to home church, if this can be done safely and without risking the well-being of his own family.
Should the crisis exceed one year (which is very likely in the event of an EMP or any other societal collapse scenario), or if the pre-crisis congregational pastor does not survive or abandons his post, the possibility will exist that each home church may need to establish itself as its own congregation. Lutheran theology respecting the nature of the Church and the Office of the Pastor can serve as a great help in such extreme circumstances.
If separate small home churches need to be established, it would be helpful if pre-crisis pastors and congregations could identify and train those laymen in advance, who would then be called as pastors by the constituency they would serve if such measures are needed. Calling procedures in such circumstances should be prepared in advance by the pre-crisis pastor and congregation. It is strongly recommended that during the first year of the crisis (or until the pre-crisis pastor is no longer available) that home churches refrain from celebrating the Lord’s Supper until a properly called pastor may be installed.
It may be possible that some hybrid version of this arrangement might be worked out in which laymen provide readings from Scripture, sing hymns, and do a Bible study, and on a given schedule the called pastor could travel to each home church for a celebration of the Lord’s Supper. The original pre-crisis called pastor could serve as “bishop” exercising ecclesiastical supervision for the newly “minted” pastors and provide continuing education for them as circumstances permit.
Even the provision of the elements for the Lord’s Supper will require some attention. Sufficient supplies of wine will need to be acquired to last for perhaps three years, unless someone in the parish is talented in that regard and has his own vineyard. (Note: Dandelion, Elderberry, or Blackberry wine are not acceptable!) Unleavened bread can be made easily; styrofoam-like wafers are not required! Fortunately, properly stored wine only gets better with storage! (Note: Be sure to store wine in a cool place or it will spoil!)
- It should go without saying that pastors must catechize their people especially for a time when “normal” church life might become impossible. Special attention needs to be paid to all articles of doctrine but especially:
a. the doctrine of the Church
b. the doctrine of the Office of the Ministry
c. the doctrine of the Lord’s Supper & Closed Communion
d. the doctrine of Holy Baptism
- Selected books for a small theological library will need to be acquired for each potential home church.
- Five-ten copies of the Bible for each home church in the same translation.
- Five-ten copies of Luther’s Small Catechism With Explanation, Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO., 1986.
- At least one set of Francis Pieper’s, Christian Dogmatics,vol. 1-4, Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO. 1950.
- Five-ten copies of Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions, Second Ed., Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO., 2006.
- One concordance for the translation of Holy Scripture selected.
- A copy of Walther’s Law & Gospel: How to Read and Apply the Bible, Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO. 2010.
- A copy of Martin Chemnitz’s The Lord’s Supper, Trans. J.A.O. Preus, Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO. 1979.
- A copy of the two volume set of The Lutheran Bible Companion, Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO., 2014.
- Five – ten copies of either The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) or the Lutheran Service Book (2006), Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis, MO.,
Pre-crisis pastors will need to impress upon all their people (but especially those who will serve as the leaders/pastors of each home church) that fellowship at the Lord’s Table requires agreement in every article of Christian doctrine and that, crisis or no crisis, the standard for admittance to the Lord’s Table must not be compromised. Fellowship at the Lord’s Table is Church fellowship. Unity at the altar includes doctrinal unity. It is simply adequate instruction and agreement that is required for fellowship. Friends and neighbors can be instructed and confirmed prior to participation at the Lord’s Table.
Without doubt there will be many unforeseen circumstances that this writer cannot anticipate, and thus part of a congregation’s preparation needs to be a forum for those topics as they come up. Ironically, this kind of preparation will benefit the congregation by helping them to understand themselves as a “family”, helping them to see and provide for the critical need for the Word and Sacraments, and helping them to understand the pastoral office and its critical part in the life of a congregation, whatever its size.
The Bride of Christ will weather whatever storm comes its way. She survived the persecution of Roman Emperors and the persecution as religious minorities in Muslim and other non-Christian societies; she will survive whatever rigors may come with a modern day societal collapse and whatever trials may accompany the events leading up to our Lord’s return. Ultimately, our hope is in Christ alone, in whose hand history rests and in whose hand our ultimate victory is assured.
“And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him: and they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. And there shall be no night there; and they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God giveth them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever.”- Revelation 22:1-5 (ESV)
Non-Fiction Books/Publications Outlining the Possible Reality of the Coming Disaster:
1. Blackout Wars: State Initiatives to Achieve Preparedness Against An Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Catastrophe, Dr. Peter Vincent Pry, Task Force on National and Homeland Security, 2015.
4. Rickards, James; The Death of Money: The Coming Collapse of the International Monetary System, Portfolio/Penguin Group, 2014.
5. Rickards, James; Currency Wars: The Making of the Next Global Crisis, Portfolio/Penguin Group, 2012.
Non-Fiction Books/Publications Outlining Specific Ways to Prepare for the Coming Disaster:
1. Rawles, James Wesley, How To Survive the End of the World As We Know It, a Plume Book, Penguin Group, New York, NY, 2009.
2. Rawles, James Wesley, Tools for Survival: What You Need To Survive When You’re On Your Own, A Plume Book, 2015.
3. Pennington, Tess; The Prepper’s Blueprint: The Step-By-Step Guide to Help You Prepare For Any Disaster, First Ed., CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2014.
4. Werner, David; Where There Is No Doctor: A Village Health Care Handbook, Hesperian Health Guides, Berkley, CA., 2011.
5. Dickson, Murray, Where There Is No Dentist, Hesperian Health Guides, Berkley, CA., 2012.
6. Alton, Joseph, The Survival Medicine Handbook, 2nd Edition, Doom and Bloom LLC, 2013.
7. Back To Basics, Ed. Abigail R. Gehring, Skyhorse Publishing, Inc., 2008.
8. Snuffy, Joe; Suburban Survival: Preparing for Socio-Economic Collapse, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013.
Fiction Books to Assist With Establishing a Mindset For Preparation:
1. Forstchen, William R., One Second After, Tom Doherty Associates Publisher, 2009.
2. Forstchen, William R., One Year After, A Forge Book, Tom Doherty Associates Publisher, 2015.
3. Gorham, Ray, 77 Days In September, Ray Gorham copyright, 2011.
4. Rawles, James Wesley, Patriots, Ulysses Press, Berkley, CA, 2009.
5. Crawford, David, Lights Out, Halffast Publishing, Texas, USA, 2010.