Friday, May 14, 2010

Layers of Leadership

For those of us in college ministry, the idea of equipping and developing young people for a life of following Christ is central to what we do.

Some of us have recognized the need for additional leadership in our attempts to reach our campuses - and found an answer in some of our students who really 'get it' - a willing army of moldable young leaders.  We've seen how this kind of experience for them can serve to shape them in some profound ways, while at the same time, multiply our efforts and reach across the campus.

I wonder, however, how many of us have looked into the additional layer of leadership that can be provided by recent grads and/or graduate students.  

My entry into the 'professional' side of college ministry came through a graduate assistant type of opportunity.  It was a great opportunity for me, right out of college, to explore my sense of calling into ministry - and specifically in a college campus context.

If this is not a layer of leadership you've ever considered, let me give you a few reasons why I think you should consider finding space in your ministry leadership for a graduate assistant or intern:

  1. They can provide an additional layer of leadership within your ministry that will benefit and bless your students, you & them.
  2. They can connect with the students and student culture in unique ways that you might not be able to (any more!).
  3. It will challenge you to think of new ways to incorporate willing and capable ministers into your ministry efforts, providing potential opportunities to expand what you offer students in terms of experiences.
  4. We can always use more interested, and invested, harvesters in the campus 'field'! 
  5. It's an opportunity to give these young ministers-in-training space to 'test out' their sense of calling to college ministry and further discern God's leading.
  6. GA's or interns often come at a 'reduced price' - it's not good or bad, just a reality.  (Now, I firmly believe that a servant is worthy of their hire, and if there's anyway to help provide some kind of funding for them it should DEFINITELY happen.  But I am also aware of some of the unfortunate challenges that come with ministry-sized budgets - so finding unique ways to pay interns, or provide academic credit for experiences and hours for GA's in need of field education, can prove to be a mutually beneficial experience).
So, if you don't currently have a program for interns, or graduate assistants, all it might take is a conversation with your supervisor about some possible creative ways for funding and/or seeking out a someone at a nearby seminary, div. school or graduate school, and you could be well on your way to adding another significant layer of leadership to your ministry.

What do you think?

Do you currently utilize interns or graduate assistants in your ministry efforts?
Would you describe your ministry context as a 'teaching ministry' in the sense that you are providing a training ground for future college ministers?
How might something like this change what you currently do?

I'd love to hear your thoughts!

[Don't forget to take this week's poll over in the sidebar.]