God doesn't need a backup plan, but we do. That lesson was so obvious to me about a year ago when we took a youth trip to Nashville for a day serving and hanging out at Opry Mills. Let me rephrase that, we were supposed to spend the day in Nashville. But thanks to a serpentine belt breaking and a dead van battery we ended up spending most of our day at the Tennessee welcome center while waiting for repairs to get everyone home. Caught without tools, a contingency plan, or any Coke Zero, we had to wing everything that day. Luckily we had great adult leaders on the trip who were able to diffuse any tension, help shuttle students, and work on the van stuck on the side of the road.
Everything God sets out to do will happen just as He intended and wanted it to. That's because He's sovereign over everything, including the stuff we don't see or plan on. But since we're not God, we can't plan on everything so we need a backup plan. Here's 4 reasons why a backup plan is important for student ministry:
You can't control the weather - This is the most obvious but often the most overlooked. If you're a student ministry leader doing anything outdoors you need a rain plan.
You can't control who you're working with - We took a huge group on a mission trip and the ministry we worked with ran out of ideas for us after a couple hours. It's important to have contingency plans in place in case they have too much for you or too little. We took that day and prayer walked the main place they minister, and found the nearest Sonic.
You can't control your health - If a ministry activity or event can't happen without you there, you're doing it wrong. Always recruit other leaders, parents, and others in the church to help carry the load of organizing and executing an activity. Last year I had heart surgery and the only time they could do it was right when our student ministry was supposed to have a Christmas party. Rather than cancel, some adults stepped up to handle the logistics and plan for the night.
You can't control your numbers - If you regularly work with young adults, you know how useless sign up sheets are. Having a backup plan for numbers means keeping additional drivers and adults "on call" just in case they're needed, or to have a plan in case fewer show than expected. One way to help in this is to come up with a minimum number of students committed for an event or activity to make.
You can't stop Wally World - Remember that scene when the Griswolds arrive at Wally World only to find out it was closed? Yeah. That's happened to all of us in student ministry. Rather than take security guards hostage and forcing your way into a closed situation, find the nearest park, mall, Sonic, or ball field.
What other reasons do you have for needing a backup plan in student ministry?
Scott M. Douglas
A blog about leadership and the lasting legacy of family ministry.