So, I’ll say it! My favorite ‘F’ word in youth ministry is flexibility. I like to keep things ‘off-kilter’ a little bit. When things get too routine, too familiar, I like to mix it up. Sometimes, I throw ‘planned wrenches’ into the plan just to orient my leaders to embrace change.
But LOTS of youth ministers say they’re flexible, when really what they are is lazy, unproductive, or unprepared.
Flexibility is NOT waiting until Wednesday afternoon to prep your Wednesday night talk. It’s not an excuse for not planning ahead or preparing adequately.
Here are a few ways to be INTENTIONALLY flexible – because sometimes stuff happens and you’ll have to be.
1. Always have a ‘break glass in case of fire’ Bible study prepped and ready. I use my trusty Interlinc boxes for such a time as this. Each box is labeled with the theme contained inside – and inside are all necessary supplies, pre-written notes, and a Bible (just in case.)
2. Keep generally used supplies on hand….and by on hand, I mean make sure you have a key to the children’s ministry supply closet – you KNOW they have everything in there. It’s probably where Al Capone’s hidden fortunes all reside– since we know kids ministry gets all the money. :)
3. Never panic in front of people. It’s OK to take a moment to gather your thoughts. Flexibility can turn into the other ‘f’ word if you leap before you look. If something goes awry, simply take a few minutes and gather your thoughts, seek counsel from other leaders, make a quick plan of action, and implement it.
4. If the need for flexibility comes from a mistake or a plan not well-thought through, evaluate that following up after the event, study, plan, etc. Flexibility is fun, but it shouldn’t happen because of repeated mistakes.
5. Prepare in advance. Check the van. Know the calendar. Have some contingencies. Embrace the opportunity for flexibility when it comes because you were fully prepared ahead of time.
Flexibility can be fun or it can be frightening, kind of like a roller coaster…planning ahead and keeping a cool head is your personal lap bar.