How Your Church Can Implement An Emergency Leadership Plan


What would happen if you, a leader on your church staff, got hit by a bus tomorrow? No, I’m not trying to diagnose your personal spiritual state or eternal life plans. The question I’m trying to get at is: who would do your job in the short (or long) term if you were unable to?

If you were no longer able to carry out your church staff duties because you or a loved one were sick or injured, how would the work you are responsible for get done? It’s a hard question to ask because no one wants to think about bad things happening. Unfortunately, however, emergencies do happen, so it is best to have a plan in place for when they do.

Here are five things you can do to implement an emergency leadership plan on your church staff.

1. Create a culture of leadership development.

By hiring smart, engaged employees who buy into your culture of servant leadership, you can ensure that even in an emergency, there will members of your team willing to pick up the ball and move it down the field. By empowering volunteers and staff on a regular basis with real responsibility, as well as opportunities to grow in their leadership abilities, you create a culture where if one person isn’t there, the rest of the team can temporarily step up to fill any holes in the leadership.

2. Communicate your responsibilities.

Who knows what you do on a daily basis? Does your supervisor know what you do to make the trains run on time? What about the members of your team? Take a few minutes to write out your regular responsibilities - both the big picture duties and the mundane, regularly scheduled responsibilities - so that nothing will be overlooked if you have to take a leave of absence.

3. Craft a Sunday morning emergency plan.

If you woke up with the flu on a Sunday morning, who would preach your message? Spend some time crafting an emergency plan so that if you happen to fall ill on a Sunday morning, it wouldn’t be a crisis for your church staff. Whether by asking a staff member to prepare a sermon just in case or recording yourself preaching one of your own, have an emergency back up plan for Sunday morning.

If you don’t preach or teach on Sunday morning, what are you responsible for on Sundays that would need to be handled? By crafting a Sunday morning emergency plan you ensure that your worship and ministries will not be interrupted by an unforeseen event on your end.

4. Stay organized.

Imagine if you were “hit by a bus” and a fellow church staff member had to dig through your computer to find important contracts or videos. Would it be obvious where they should look? Are files named properly? Do you stay up to date on all your documentation and file sharing responsibilities? Be sure to keep your digital and paper files organized and up to date. Likewise, keep a list of your usernames and passwords in an envelope in your desk so that your staff would still have access to any digital storage or necessary files they would need to keep the ministry running in your absence.

5. Take a break.

Vacation and sabbaticals are a great opportunity for your volunteers and staff to put into practice your emergency plan. The benefit of that is it’s not an emergency, and you can make sure your team has everything they will need to preform excellently in your absence. Temporarily leaving your church staff to continue working without your supervision and presence is a great way both for volunteers and staff to lead and for those in your church to be led by individuals they might not recognize.

What do you do to prepare your team for short term, unexpected absences? Do you have a long term plan in place as well?

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