I love working in Children's Ministry. I do. It's my passion. I like planning out services and events and when I mean plan...I do mean plan. Everything...down to the minute. I do not like having empty spaces in the plans. And I want to know what is going to happen and in what order it will happen. BUT, no matter how much I plan, no matter how meticulously I prepare, nothing ever goes according to plan. Computers freeze up, games go faster than scheduled, sound systems go on the blink, kids are more talkative than usual. You name it, it can happen in the course of the Children's Church service. So, I have to be flexible. I have to have a back up plan...and sometimes even a back up back up plan. Flexibility is key to Children's Ministry...and actually to any sort of ministry in general. Because ministry is by nature connected to the lives of people and life is simply unpredictable.
Now, for me, since I have grown up in a ministry family, this is a lesson learned early. But for others, flexibility not something that they are used to and it can be tough. So here are a couple things that can help you remain flexible...even if you are a planner like me.
Plan for change
Within my service agenda, there are generally things that I have purposely put into the program that can easily be shortened or lengthened as needed. For examples, if I have four songs in the music section, one will be my "if necessary cut" song. I can easily skip it if time is short. An extra game could be put into the agenda if you need a time filler. For me, I have a review game that I can easily put together if I need to expand the service. Crafts are great, but they can take an enormous amount of time, so if I am using one, I am prepared to cut something else in the lesson, if it is necessary.
Have a technology back up plan
If your computer has issues or if your sound system is on the blink, that can totally mess up your plans. While you probably can not be prepared for every instance (after all computers are constantly changing as are the problems that can go with them), there are a few things you can do to help alleviate issues.
1) Make sure any video or audio you need is downloaded into your hard drive as opposed to streaming them live. Internet issues are very common in lots of places, but if you can learn to not rely on needing things live, that can help a lot.
2) Keep an old school CD or DVD player handy. These can come in handy in a pinch. If the computer isn't working, I can at least pop a cd into the player and have music.
3) Work on projecting your voice. I realize that not everyone has a naturally booming voice and many people use microphones during services. But, if the sound system is on the fritz, there is only so much you can do, so practice projecting your voice, so that if it becomes necessary, you can still be heard. Even the most timid of voices can be heard if you learn to project. If you feel that your voice is simply too "small" to be heard without a microphone, you might consider investing in a few vocal lessons. Voice lessons can help a great deal in this area because those who sing are taught how to breathe and project their voice in ways that will make them heard, but without straining their vocal chords.
No matter how well you plan, there is always a possibility that things will go differently than you planned. So being flexible is necessary. When the unexpected happens, say a prayer for wisdom and stay calm. There is always a way to continue, but 99 times out of a hundred, it will force you to stretch. And that's not a bad thing. The more we stretch, the more we grow. And the more we grow, the better ministers we will be. So don't be afraid to be flexible...it can lead to great growth.
Until next week!