Skip to content Skip to cookie consent
Skip to content

Research reports

With you in the storm

Understanding the role of the local church in building resilience

2023 Available in English

Two Nepalese women digging for potatoes in a field using their bare hands.

Kopila Aryal, vice-secretary of ‘Panchakanya Women’s Agricultural Group’, digs for a potato from her field. Photo: Tom Price/Tearfund

The scale of the global church means that it has the potential to be one of the largest actors in increasing disaster resilience.

‘When the drought hit our community in Zimbabwe in 2015 and 2016, we thought dependency on handouts was our only way out. However, with the advent of these new Bible studies we have realised that, despite the drought, God has already provided us with many resources that we can use to prepare for and overcome the drought.’

Taken from a case study of the work of the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe, this quote illustrates the positive impact that local churches can make in vulnerable communities. However it is important to consider whether such examples are isolated or indicative of a broader picture. 

This working paper shares our findings so far, with the intention of gauging interest, getting feedback and encouraging engagement between stakeholders.

It is part of an ongoing Tearfund programme of research and discussion on the role of churches in resilience and disaster risk reduction (DRR) which aims to:

  • highlight what is already known on the subject of preparedness and resilience
  • generate discussion and commitment from peer agencies
  • encourage greater engagement from churches in DRR and wider collaborations with other aid and development organisations
  • mobilise the local church to consider itself a key actor in DRR and resilience

Aims of this paper

This paper aims to:

  1. Highlight the work of local churches as key actors in disaster risk reduction (DRR) and resilience building.

    It does this by:

    • using existing evidence to identify opportunities, gaps and challenges
    • collecting further evidence
    • generating discussion and engagement among peer agencies
    • informing and influencing different stakeholder groups
    • encouraging church involvement in DRR and collaboration with aid and development organisations
  2. Promote research and discussion.

    This paper is part of Tearfund’s ongoing programme of research and discussion on the role of churches in resilience and DRR. It builds on Tearfund’s long experience of supporting local churches to manage shocks and stresses in disaster-prone areas. Unfortunately, evidence on the roles played by the local church in DRR and resilience building is rarely used to inform decision-making by donors, governments, international organisations or other peer non-religious agencies; nor do such organisations necessarily encourage the local church to consider itself a key actor in DRR and resilience. This ‘application gap’ needs to be overcome.

    In response to this, the findings from this work will help to reinforce the existing evidence base of activities carried out by local churches in disaster management and DRR, raise their profile as key DRR actors, and make the case for greater inclusion of churches and other faith-based organisations (FBOs) in resilience building.

  3. Influence international decision makers.

    This compelling evidence demonstrating the roles and impact of the local church in DRR and resilience building has significant potential. Such evidence can inform decision-making by donors, governments, the UN and civil society organisations, encouraging them to partner with local church leaders and faith communities in disaster planning and preparedness. It can also equip and mobilise local churches to consider themselves the world’s largest network of civil society actors in DRR and resilience.

Other languages

Share this resource

If you found this resource useful, please share it with others so they can benefit too.

Get our email updates

Be the first to hear about our latest learning and resources

Sign up now - Get our email updates

Cookie preferences

Your privacy and peace of mind are important to us. We are committed to keeping your data safe. We only collect data from people for specific purposes and once that purpose has finished, we won’t hold on to the data.

For further information, including a full list of individual cookies, please see our privacy policy.

  • These cookies are necessary for the website to function and cannot be switched off in our systems.

  • These cookies allow us to measure and improve the performance of our site. All information these cookies collect is anonymous.

  • These allow for a more personalised experience. For example, they can remember the region you are in, as well as your accessibility settings.

  • These cookies help us to make our adverts personalised to you and allow us to measure the effectiveness of our campaigns.