Dr. Mary Manz Simon,
ALOA Board of Directors
Demand for in-person events has skyrocketed. With pandemic anxiety fading, people across the generations eagerly anticipate in-person gatherings.
Although planning teams prepare for smooth events, no one can control all the variables. This is the reason contingency planning is plugged into every event. “Typical” challenges include travel disruptions, viral outbreaks in the area and supply chain issues.
However, when the majority of event team positions are filled by older adults, unpredictable elements loom especially large. We have medical appointments. Some of us no longer drive to night meetings or drive at all. Others have caregiving duties that might change unexpectedly. These and other factors make risk management essential when older adults serve in leadership or on event teams.
Use these suggestions to incorporate contingency planning into your event structure:
- Immediately clarify decision-making hierarchy. Who fills in for an absent leader? Is the absent leader consulted before major decisions are made? How do responsibilities shift when various positions are suddenly empty? Give all participants a written copy of the policies you will follow.
- Identify preferred communication channels. Early in the planning process, provide each team member with a master list of participants alongside complete contact information.
- Consult the “ecosystem.” The church property manager, event vendors, district/synod leaders from the regional office or others often have valuable information or time-saving tips. Specific questions will generate practical suggestions.
- Review potential problem points. “Technical difficulties” top the list for many church-based events. Does a knowledgeable, on-site technician have an equally knowledgeable back-up who will be “on call” if not “on site” for the event? Check rules for kitchen use, food service and other site procedures. Follow standard procedures to reserve event space as soon as the date is determined.
- Practice! A complete “run of event exercise” might not be necessary, but at least do an on-site walk through. Identify elements that might be unpredictable. Talk through potential scenarios, including both problems and solutions.
And have a terrific event
Check out this video for ideas on how to find new programming ideas for your older adult ministry.