Plan for the Unexpected

Your church depends on you in a lot of ways. The smaller the church the more that may be true. There are responsibilities that you handle each week that no one else is prepared to do. What happens when you are suddenly unavailable? You need a plan for the unexpected.

Plan for the Unexpected. Delegation. The Go Commission.

It was on a Friday afternoon when I went from feeling great to intense pain in about a second. I finished the one last task that had to be done that day and went home. The pain made the trip with me and didn’t go away. The next morning Linda drove me to the emergency room. It was clear that I wasn’t going home.

Fortunately, I wasn’t scheduled to preach the next day, so my stress about being absent from church on Sunday wasn’t quite so high. But, my diagnosis made it clear I wouldn’t be working for a week or more. (It turned into “more.”)

Put yourself in my situation. What happens on Sunday if you are suddenly unable to attend? Let me offer three questions to get you started on your plan for the unexpected.

What do you handle every week that no one else can do?

Take out a legal pad and list the things you do that must be done on a weekly basis. The list should contain only the tasks necessary to keep the church functioning. It will include things like preaching, teaching, worship leading, and so forth. But, for many pastors it will also contain responsibilities like pastoral care, key administrative tasks, PowerPoint preparation, worship planning and a lot more.

Which responsibilities would be easy to hand off quickly?

Admit it. Some of the things on your list would be easy to delegate. There are people who have the skills and willingness to handle them. They are on your list because you like doing them.

At the points where this is true of you, you are the roadblock to leadership development in your church.

Start your plan for the unexpected by handing off one thing on your list this week. Identify the task and match it to a person who can carry it out.

Are you praying for the right people?

It might be that you don’t have the right people to hand specific leadership responsibilities. Why not focus your prayers by turning your responsibilities list into a prayer list?

Early in my ministry I served First Church of God in Hickory, North Carolina as Minister of Music and Youth. One of my responsibilities was to direct the adult choir. We were overjoyed when a Ramona, a strong soprano singer, started attending and joined the choir.

It wasn’t long before Betty Plants, the pastor’s wife, casually mentioned that she had been praying for a soprano to come. Ramona was an answer to her prayer. She deepened my prayer life with that simple revelation.

You never know when events will suddenly make you unavailable. Don’t let you church flounder in your absence. It can flourish if you plan for the unexpected.


What essential task will you hand off this week?