An online preparedness guide and consulting for church leaders. 

Risk Assessment and Impact Analysis

Risk Assessment Defined

According to the website, a risk assessment is defined as “a process to identify potential hazards and analyze what could happen if a hazard occurs.” The primary goal of the risk assessment and impact analysis report is to identify the risks and how they could potentially affect the church/ministry.

A Ministry Risk/Impact Analysis predicts the consequences of disruption of a ministry function and process and gathers information needed to develop recovery strategies. Potential loss scenarios should be identified during a risk assessment. Operations may also be interrupted by the failure of a supplier of goods or services or delayed deliveries.

Conducting a risk assessment and impact analysis is foundational to developing your ReadyChurch Emergency Operations Plans.

Conducting a Risk Assessment

There are numerous potential hazards to consider when conducting a Risk Assessment. For each hazard there are many possible scenarios that could unfold depending on timing, magnitude and location of the hazard.

There are many “assets” at risk from hazards. First and foremost, injuries to people should be the first consideration of the Risk Assessment. Hazard scenarios that could cause significant injuries should be highlighted to ensure that appropriate emergency plans are in place. Many other physical assets may be at risk. These include buildings, information technology, utility systems, machinery, raw materials and finished goods. Consider the impact an incident could have on your relationships with customers, the surrounding community, your church members, and other stakeholders. Consider situations that would cause your members to lose confidence in your church and/or ministry and its services.

As you conduct the Risk Assessment, look for vulnerabilities – weaknesses – that would make an asset more susceptible to damage from a hazard. Vulnerabilities include deficiencies in building construction, process systems, security, protection systems and loss prevention programs. They contribute to the severity of damage when an incident occurs.

A list of common threats and risks that face churches can be found in the downloaded material called “Identifying Types of Crises and Disasters.” CEN recommends reviewing that list while filling out the Risk Assessment Template.


Conducting an Impact Analysis

Once you’ve identified potential risks to your church/ministry by completing the risk assessment, the Ministry Impact Analysis is designed to identify the operational and financial impacts resulting from the disruption of church functions and processes. Some of the impacts to consider include:

  • Lost finances
  • Loss of leadership
  • Loss of property
  • Criminal impacts
  • Increased expenses

Timing and Duration of Disruption

The point in time when a church/ministry function or process is disrupted can have a significant bearing on the loss sustained. A church with an active shooter incident during the week versus on a Sunday during a service is an example of the difference in impact. A pastor being sick for a week versus facing a debilitating chronic illness also impacts the speed of return to “normalcy” in the church. A short duration of illness may be easily overcome by having an associate pastor take care of the pastoral responsibilities whereas a longer disruption could have a more significant impact.

Sample Church/Ministry Disruption Scenarios

  • Physical damage to a building
  • Restricted access to a site or building
  • Interruption of services
  • Utility outage
  • Damage to, loss or corruption of information technology including voice and data communications, servers, computers, operating systems, applications and data
  • Absenteeism/illness of essential employees

The graphic below explains the process of designing an Impact Analysis.

Conducting the Ministry Impact Analysis

You can use a Ministry Impact Analysis to survey staff, ministry leaders, volunteers and others in the congregation to discover how the church operates its services. Ask them to identify the potential impacts if the church function or process that they are responsible for is interrupted. The Ministry Impact Analysis should also identify the critical ministry processes and resources needed for the church/ministry to continue to function at different levels. A Sample Ministry Impact Analysis Template is in the downloadable material.

Writing an Impact Analysis Report

The Ministry Impact Analysis report should document the potential impacts resulting from disruption of church/ministry functions and processes. Scenarios resulting in significant church/ministry interruption should be assessed in terms of financial impact, if possible. These costs should be compared with the costs for possible recovery strategies.

The Ministry Impact Analysis report should prioritize the order of events for restoration of the church/ministry. Church/Ministry processes with the greatest operational and financial impacts should be restored first. The Impact Analysis Report is NOT designed to address a solution to the potential risks.

Those will be addressed in the Emergency Operations Plan.