Insight from a Children's Pastor & Awana Commander

The “Gumby” Principle

(This is a retro post from April, but a good reminder as we begin the new Awana year.)

So many different things can happen on a club night.

– Leaders calling out sick, or not showing up at all.
– A sudden surge of clubbers.
– Somebody else is using the media equipment you reserved
– Someone left crafts all over the handbook time tables
– The youth pastor has a big inflatable in the game time  space and you find out you can’t use it when you walk in the door for Awana

… and the list could go on and on….

For those of you who may not “know” Gumby, he was a rubbery toy that you could flex and twist, but he always maintained his shape. That’s how you need to run the Awana ministry (or any ministry). It should maintain its order and shape, but flexible enough to adjust to situations that may arise. If you lose your shape (lose control) and let the situation get the best of you, then you are not in the right attitude of worship when the clubbers arrive. By maintaining your composure you are showing leadership and an ability to work with other ministries. It also helps you minister more effectively to the clubbers.

Here are things to remember when that “flexibility” needs to kick in:

  • Realize that not all of those serving can adjust quickly to some scenarios – help them be flexible, don’t just say this is how it is, adjust – offer guidance to help them flex
  • If you have children diagnosed with autism, then as they arrive, take time to talk to the parent and child to let them know of the revisions to the evening. Some children need the same structure and when it is modified, it can negatively affect them. By sharing the revisions early, you help prevent any episodes that may arise.
  • Don’t let the situation “brew”, share with church leadership the concern and seek to work together with other ministries after the evening.
  • Stay calm through the situation, it will show others that you are in control and it will help you diffuse any concerns that those serving with you may have and help them stay calm and prepare for the club night.

Things will come up that cause you to invoke the “Gumby Principle” – how you handle it will speak volumes to church leadership, those serving with you and the clubbers.


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