On Mar, 1 2021
Creating a killer student leadership team can expand your impact on campus exponentially. Maybe you don’t have a student leadership team yet and you’re feeling overworked as your ministry continues to grow. Or perhaps you're feeling burned because student leaders in the past have been unreliable or not willing to be coached.
Here are 4 thoughtful and simple ways to engage your students leaders so that 1) they feel connected to the mission of your ministry, 2) they feel empowered and confident in their leadership skills, and 3) they are equipped to organize the ministry around what you are trying to accomplish.
- Hospitality. Food! We like food, we need food, and we have a profound social instinct to share food together! A campus minister shared a story about one of his student leaders. She was in the Newman Center feeling pretty frazzled after a long, busy day. He asked her, “Have you had dinner yet?” She replied, “I haven’t even had lunch!” So he made her a simple meal of a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup. Breaking bread together is one of the most ancient forms of developing and fostering relationships. Offering genuine hospitality to your student leaders is simple way to encourage meaningful connection.
- Relationship. Invest in your student leaders on an individual level. On one campus, the campus ministers are intentional about meeting with their student leaders away from the center. They will go for a walk or get coffee or a meal once a week to discuss student life outside of ministry. The campus ministers really want to help the students feel seen and heard as people, not just ministry leaders. It’s important that student leaders experience encouragement and reassurance from an adult who takes personal and genuine interest in their lives.
- Prayer. Meeting once a week to discuss ministry work is great, but even better is meeting once a week to pray together. This could look like a weekly rosary before the student Mass each week; or, include a devotional in your ministry meetings and create space for reflection and prayer over what concerns them. Student leaders want to know they are sincerely cared for and prayed for by their peers and directors.
- Personal spirituality. Leading and discipling your student leaders always comes before organizing and planning ministry events and activities. Just like you, your student leaders are at risk for burnout if their responsibilities exceed their resources. You definitely want to offer them practical tools to accomplish ministry duties, but more than anything they want to know they are loved and cared for personally. Check in with them on their journey and relationship with the Lord and make sure they are in a meaningful small group. You can consider offering leadership retreats once or twice a year and ongoing formation opportunities hosted specifically for them – where they can come up for air from both school and ministry demands, and be in a position to receive.
It is our hope that these ideas will help you engage your leadership team in an environment of trust and FUN! We are here to support you in this! As you pour into your student leaders, let us pour into you.
If you’re interested in any of our resources for campus ministers and student leaders, reach out here – we want to journey with you.