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God’s people can play a critical role in times of natural disaster. This ministry paper explores the theological concepts that propel a local church to action during a time of natural disaster. In addition, this paper will provide a practical framework for a local church to respond with incarnational ministry that transforms disaster-related human suffering with the tangible compassion of Christ.

Following a 2011 Level 1 natural disaster, Our Savior Lutheran Church in Minot, North Dakota, coordinated a ministry of mercy where five thousand volunteers from forty-two states changed the city’s trajectory through Christian service. Often churches do not know the transformational role they can play in the event of a disaster. This paper offers a framework to provide transformational mercy during such a time.

This paper contains three sections. The first section explores the city of Minot and Our Savior Lutheran Church and discusses how pre-disaster relationships set the stage for transformational ministry. This section then highlights the pivotal role local congregations can play in healing a disaster-ridden community through the tangible compassion of Christ.

The second section examines theological concepts that propelled a church to action when confronted with human suffering. This section reviews seven books that discuss the church’s role in incarnational mercy care and develops a theology of incarnational disaster response through mercy and mission.

The third section provides a practical framework for a local congregation to engage in incarnational disaster response with the introduction of a disaster response handbook. The handbook raises a vision for service following a local disaster and exposes church leaders to multi-faceted opportunities for incarnational mercy care within their community. A plan for implementation is also offered.

Degree Name

Doctor of Ministry (DMin)

First Advisor

Rowland, Randy

Document Type





Church, Natural Disaster Response, Mercy


Christianity | Practical Theology


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