Service Planning: Avoiding the Chaos of Last-Minute Service Changes

As a technical leader, you need to be able to say “no” on a Sunday morning. While it is never a comfortable position, changes to service should not be done last minute (with a couple of exceptions).

Service Planning: Avoiding the Chaos of Last-Minute Service Changes
One such exception is if you’re having a guest speaker come in, for instance, obtaining information and media from them may happen just an hour before service. Always request the information ahead of time, but realize that with some speakers, this just may not happen.
Service Planning: Avoiding the Chaos of Last-Minute Service Changes
One such exception is if you’re having a guest speaker come in, for instance, obtaining information and media from them may happen just an hour before service. Always request the information ahead of time, but realize that with some speakers, this just may not happen.

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In larger churches, if everyone involved in the aspect of service planning is on staff, simply pick a day when everyone is in and take 15-30 minutes to finalize the schedule for that Sunday. It may even be that after you have a good flow, this will simply take five minutes. It cannot be overlooked.

Smaller churches with volunteers that are involved in one or more areas of service planning can be a little bit trickier. First decide on consistent communication form where you can work through the service plan. Email, a chat app (like Slack), Google Hangouts, or a Facebook group or Messenger, are all great ways to work through a service plan. While texting can work, sometimes people can get inadvertently dropped off of group texts.  Communication is the critical factor, so regardless of your staff size, this has to be done.

As a technical leader, you need to be able to say “no” on a Sunday morning. While it is never a comfortable position, changes to service should not be done last minute.  Saying “No, I’m sorry that’s not going to work for this week” will go a long way in drawing a clear boundary for what can and cannot happen. At the same time, do not dismiss the person entirely. You may need to at that particular moment, but be sure to follow back up and explain what could and should be done in the future, to ensure that what they want can be done. Continuously allowing last-minute changes is a guaranteed way to keep getting burdened by last-minute requests.

There are a couple of exceptions when it comes to last-minute requests and service planning. If you’re having a guest speaker come in, for instance, obtaining information and media from them may happen just an hour before service. Always request the information ahead of time, but realize that with some speakers, this just may not happen. This is where knowing the details around the rest of your service are critical. Ensure those are in place and be prepared to work through things as best you can.

Another exception pertaining to last-minute requests are major productions. Easter and Christmas are often when many churches go well beyond their typical service. Service planning for these should not be done in the week before, but rather be a process that is worked through over the month leading up to the big production.


More About Todd Heft
Todd Heft is the director of media arts at Hillside Community Church in Bristol, Connecticut. He also serves as the Social Media Coordinator for Racing with Jesus Ministries. He holds a bachelor's degree in Computer Science from Eastern Connecticut State University and a Master's degree in Computer Information Management from Central Connecticut State University. Todd also has a full-time position at ESPN as a Senior Systems Administrator, and enjoys spending time camping with his wife and their four children.
Get in Touch: todd.heft@hillsidebristol.org    More by Todd Heft

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