A few Sunday’s ago, I lost pretty hard.

It was a particularly busy weekend. There was a lot going on and my scheduled that Sunday was pretty hectic. I had agreed to be the communicator in Middle School and High School the entire month, so that was keeping me pretty busy. It usually meant I was spending a lot of time during the week preparing the weekend message and the day of involved last minute run-throughs, getting comfortable with the content before the service.

About 10 minutes prior to our 9:30 service start time, I get a text from our preschool large group director. There’s an issue with ProPresenter. The sound file isn’t playing correctly. It’s not a critical piece of the program, but a small detail that would add to the experience. All the other people who edit ProPresenter were occupied or perplexed as to why the sound file isn’t playing correctly. I actually was free for 10 minutes, so I walked over to see if I could help. Interestingly, I couldn’t get the sound file to play either. However, in my effort to fix the issue, the entire system crashed. After restarting ProPresenter twice and rebooting the computer, nothing was working the way it was supposed to. I couldn’t even comprehend what was going on. I looked at the tech volunteer and said, “You’re going to have to wing it.” I looked at the time, it had been 12 minutes and I was supposed to be on stage 2 minutes ago. Oops!

Fortunately, the Middle School team stalled with an impromptu game and after the 9:30 service, the preschool ProPresenter was worked out and everything ended up working out just fine. However, the events of this day served as a really great reminder. Funny how it took several such reminders to make a point. A few weeks before that, our Check-In system was having issues and we went to our back-up plan of hand-written stickers. However, there was a short delay in getting our check-in tags switched over which caused a delay for everyone and caused some longer lines. A few weeks before that, we had an issue with our main printer/copier on Sunday morning and there were some thing that needed to be printed that we couldn’t print. We had to get creative that Sunday.

I’m hesitant to say this is an issue of procrastination, but there’s something about waiting until the last minute to do something that caused an issue in each of these instances.

  • The ProPresenter file could have been built earlier in the week (or even the week before by the volunteers that week)
  • The Check-In system could have been tested earlier in the morning and when the delay was first noticed, hand-written tags could have been pulled out and readied.
  • Most of the printing could have been done earlier in the week. If we had any issues with the copier/printer, we would have had plenty of time to get the printer fixed or outsourced the printing before Sunday.

Every one of these situations could have been avoided if we had made a conscious decision to do them before the day they had to be done. It’s not like we’re working week to week. Our curriculum is prepared 6-8 weeks out. We scheduled volunteers months in advanced. There’s no reason for last minute failures that trip us up.

This is what we can count on. Printers are going to break. The internet is going to fail. Computers are going to crash. We have to have contingency plans. That’s good stewardship. However, we can avoid having to have as many contingency plans by simply setting earlier deadlines, ensuring that there is one less thing to go wrong on a Sunday.

What early deadlines need to be set to avoid last minute frustrations when the inevitable happens?