Today’s article is a guest post from Jenny Funderburke. Find out more about Jenny, including where to find her blog, at the end of the article.
1. Do as much beforehand as you can. Our default is to become overwhelmed and let that paralyze us. We choose, consciously or not, to do nothing until we absolutely have to. As volunteers call before Sunday, go ahead and have your team fill as many of these as possible. This may involve moving people in from other areas that you oversee. Contact parents who are faithful attenders. Plugging in as many holes as you can beforehand will help reduce stress on Sunday morning.
2. Intentionally stalk substitutes. Of course, there will always be absences that you didn’t know about ahead of time. Two things that I try to avoid are putting up “We need help” signs and making desperate pleas from the pulpit. Both of these broadcast that your ministry is struggling. Even on days when it is, that isn’t the message you want to send to the rest of the church! Instead, pull in everyone you can. It may be a day that it is ok to be short greeters to insure that you have teachers in rooms. Free yourself up to watch parents coming in and intentionally ask those that you really like and trust to step in. Again, avoid sounding too desperate though it is ok to beg a little. On a side note, if this is an every week occurrence your parents will start running away from you. But that issue is a whole other blog post!
3. Consider changing up the norm. There may be days when substitutes are just flat out impossible to find. Evaluate what you can do to adjust programming to make it work. We have tried to be proactive about high-absence Sundays in our elementary ministry by planning to do large group only instead of splitting into small groups. In preschool, go ahead and combine classes where you can. It is better to have larger groups (but keep it safe!) for one day than for parents to stand around, frustrated that there is no teacher in the room.
These kinds of Sundays happen to everyone in every church at one time or another. The good news is that our God is just as faithful on these nutty days as He is on the days when you are fully staffed. He is not surprised by the nuttiness. Do all that you can, pray hard, and when it is over, thank God that every week is not like that!