It never occurred to me what would happen if I couldn’t attend youth ministry one night because of an emergency. I had always made plans for when I went out on vacation; however, what would happen if I got sick or my family needed me. I was finally put in that situation during the time of my wife’s pregnancy with our son Matthew. I not only had to plan for the dates I thought I would be out, but just in case our son had come early. I had to answer the question:
WHAT’S THE BACK UP PLAN?
In youth ministry you need a back up plan because it will help you prepare for times when:
- You are sick
- Something happens in the community
- The church has a big announcement
- Weather disruptions
- Family Emergencies
Your team, parents, and teens depend on your back up plan, because it gives them stability in moments of change. If there isn’t certainty in what to do, anything can and will happen. To build a successful back up plan you need to:
- MAKE IT SIMPLE: If the power went out, leaders didn’t show up or your message got magically erased what could you simply do with the students. For us the answer is FORM SMALL GROUPS that pray together, share life together and pray for one another. This is already at the core of what we do in our ministry. If you keep your plan simple and it stems from the foundation of your ministry leaders will have an easier time adapting to the sudden change an emergency will bring.
- COMMUNICATE IT TO EVERYONE: Make sure everyone on your team knows what to do. That means everyone knows who is leading the ship in your absence, and what they need to do if they are in charge. Provide an accessible document, cover this in leadership meetings and constantly grow leaders. Great communication leads to effective preparation.
- PRACTICE IT: You need to practice your backup plan so that people get a feel for what it looks like. Great times to practice a backup plan are in the summer, during a weekend you know that there will be competition (i.e. Sunday after Thanksgiving) or when you plan to go away. This way you can troubleshoot any errors in the plan.
No one likes to think that they need a back up plan because it can mean a drop in excellence. But, the best youth ministries are the ones that prepare for moments that may never come. Your ministry should not be a program, it needs to be a movement. Make sure it can move with your life, your teens and your community’s.
What does your back up plan look like?
Chris Wesley (@chrisrwesley)