Can a CM Call Out Sick?

16 May

Kids are germ hotels.
From their grimy hands to their runny noses, kids are walking disease incubators.

So, it’s inevitable that those of us who put our bodies in that line of fire week in and week out will come down with some sort of hybrid mutant cold/flu/virus at some point during the year.
The question then becomes, what happens to your programming when you’re out sick?  Or… do you take a sick day?  If you’re out sick, do they cancel Sunday school?  Does your church allow you to be sick?

For many of us, it’s much easier to take a Monday off than a Sunday.  For some, it’s because we can do our work from home during the week, but cannot invite church over to our houses on a weekend.  For others, like myself, it becomes a control issue more than anything else.
As I wrestle through the annual battle of taking a weekend off, I begin asking questions like:

  • Do I trust my team enough to let them run a Sunday morning?
  • Have I trained my leaders well enough that they can take on extra roles in my absence?
  • In the event of an emergency, have our plans been communicated well enough that I don’t have to be there to provide oversight?
  • If programs run well without me, then is there a need for my position?

If you’ve wrestled with these questions, or questions like them, I’d love for you to share your stories in the comments section.

Everyone gets sick.  What happens when it’s the Children’s Pastor?


Posted by on May 16, 2009 in Kidmin


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

12 responses to “Can a CM Call Out Sick?

  1. jonathancliff

    May 16, 2009 at 7:52 pm

    I’ve missed one Sunday being sick in 6 years. I always have a backup plan in place, and most weeks have great people in place than cover for me…sometimes that person being my wife. 🙂


  2. jabberfrog

    May 16, 2009 at 8:24 pm

    How well things run in your absence is a reflection of your leadership.

    Look at it this way… you have the kids attention approximately 40 hours per year. (if they’re at your church 2 hrs on a Sunday, then dbl it to 80 hours per year). This means you have the same number of influential hours with a child as the average work week. Not a lot of time.

    If mom/dad have 3000 waking hours with their kids then we don’t have to spend much time trying to figure out ‘where the money is’. Build up a team that is outstanding with the 40 hours. Pour into them a vision for the weekend that makes kids want to come back for more. Then keep yourself free to leverage what happens in the 40 (weekend) to impact the 3000 (home).

    It doesn’t eliminate you from the weekend. It just changes how much is dependent upon you. Work yourself out of a job. The best move you could make.


  3. Jill Nelson

    May 16, 2009 at 10:45 pm

    The best test of my ability to miss a Sunday came 6 months into me being the director when I was stuck in the hospital for a week with a collapsed lung. My team did wonderfully! Not only was being in the hospital a problem, but the day before I was admitted, I had asked a key volunteer to step down because of some choices she was making. It was so tempting to call her and ask that she work just one more week and then be done. But I didn’t, and things worked fine.

    Another missed Sunday came on promotion Sunday, the first of the school year, and not only that, the first Sunday of an all new program for our elementary students. I woke up with a neck spasm and couldn’t even get out of bed. It made me so thankful that my elementary director had run through every possible scenario with me the day before to make sure that everything I’d been thinking in my head was actually communicated to him. Once again, things went great without me!

    It’s a humbling experience to think that things can run just fine without you. The whole time I’ve been in this position I’ve been developing my team with the hope of stepping back to part time when my husband and I start a family.

    I also appreciate my executive pastor so much because he actually encourages all of us on the ministry staff to take a Sunday off here and there, and to not even use vacation time to do so. It’s a blessing to not only be able to take a sick Sunday if needed, but to be encouraged to take a just for fun one as well.


  4. Anthony Prince

    May 17, 2009 at 6:43 am

    I love the contrast between Jonathan (missed 1 Sunday in 6 years) and Jill (her executive pastor ENCOURAGES her to miss an occasional Sunday).

    For the last 10 years, I’ve struggled with debilitating migraine headaches… so my team knows that, on any given Sunday morning, they might be flying without me in the driver seat.

    I dig what Gina points out – that church programming cannot be the end-all when it comes to kids becoming fully devoted Christ-followers. Remembering that can allow for some breathing room.

    When I first felt the call into ministry, I had hoped to marry a career oriented woman so I could be a stay-at-home dad and run a Children’s Ministry program part-time… so my heart beats faster when I read Jill’s words:
    “The whole time I’ve been in this position I’ve been developing my team with the hope of stepping back to part time when my husband and I start a family.”

    Work ourselves out of jobs, eh? Sounds a little frightening.
    I like it.

    Anyone else out there have experiences with taking a weekend off due to sickness, or otherwise?
    Keep those comments coming!


  5. dan scott

    May 17, 2009 at 7:14 am

    I’m one who rarely takes a Sunday off – usually the only ones I miss are when I’m speaking out – 3-5 times a year. I’ve missed only once for being sick.

    We have implemented lots of communication throughout the week that I’m pretty sure our volunteers could make it work without us. Our small group coaches know where all the supplies are. Our hosts and storytellers get tours of the prop room and learn it like the back of their hands.

    When you empower volunteers, they take ownership and can face the toughest challenges. Children’s pastors MUST reproduce themselves. No one is so great that they should become indispensable – eventually your structure will collapse if you are.

    Good conversation, Anthony!


  6. jonathan

    May 17, 2009 at 7:28 am

    Let me reiterate that that one missed Sunday in 6 years, is one missed for being SICK. I take off 3 Sunday’s a year for vacation, where I don’t even come in the doors of the church. There are also a dozen or so Sunday’s each year where I am teaching, baptizing, or serving in another area of the church and my volunteers take it and run it with great skill!

    I’m with Gina, and have worked hard to work myself out of a job! I really judge my leadership by how smoothly things run without me running them. 🙂 I remember having an important person in our church visit on one of our services once, and I wasn’t doing a single thing buy just watching and observing in the back (it has NOT always been this way, trust me!). It was one of my proudest moments!


  7. Sarah

    May 17, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    We have a weekly team meeting during the week so ideally everyone on the team know what we’re doing and what there role is on Sunday before they get there and my core leaders do a great job of keeping things together when I’m not there, but it can get a bit shaky when unexpected thing happen.

    I guess that if we were to maintain what we are doing right now
    and not keep progressing then there would be no need for my position.

    Last year at KidsRock Conference I got quite sick. I was supposed to be preaching at the Sunday service which was in the adults service with kids. I was determined to do it because I had a picture of what it could look like. When I woke up at 3am, ready to throw up I said to God, “but I HAVE to do it, otherwise it wont be the way I want it”… that’s when I realized that my pride was causing me to hold on too tightly to something that was God’s, not mine. Two of my leaders preached my sermon and did an amazing job. The worship was awesome, parent’s were blessed, kids were excited, and everyone I talked to for weeks after that were raving about it.

    Yep, I can trust my leaders, but more then that I can trust God, after all it was His idea, not mine!


  8. Kathrynjoy

    May 17, 2009 at 4:26 pm

    I hate to miss a sunday! When I first started ministry here (doing the events side of our kids program) I was really sick on a weekend when I had lots of new team starting. I lived close enough to the church that our radios worked…so I ran the whole service from home via radio.

    Now i’ve learnt to train team well enough that they don’t need me there all the time. I can just ADD life to the service.


  9. Anthony Prince

    May 17, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    What a great story, Sarah!
    I like the idea of a weekly meeting, can you expand on what team members are expected to come to that meeting… and maybe talk about when it happens and how long that meeting lasts for? I’m not sure there are a lot of CM’s out there hosting a mid-week team meeting for their volunteer staff… but, maybe it’s happening more than I’m aware of.

    And, Kathryn, the idea of running things via radio from home is priceless! Thanks for sharing.


  10. jabberfrog

    May 17, 2009 at 5:38 pm

    These are great comments. It almost looks like two different subjects here.

    1. How much of the operation is dependent on you that might impede your ability to be out sick?

    2. How often do you feel is appropriate to be gone on Sunday? (sick or not)

    Curious to hear more on this. Anthony, you might have another post brewing.


  11. bseybolt

    May 18, 2009 at 7:19 am

    I serve in a volunteer capacity; but, I am a very visible leadership position. It was my wife’s birthday this weekend and she asked if I would take a Sunday off to be with the family. I realized that I really need to do a better job and prepping the people who are there so the large group experience doesn’t take a hit.


  12. Anthony Prince

    June 8, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    I’d like to point out that my staff is great at picking up slack when I’m sick… in case that wasn’t clear 😉



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