Expanding from 1-10

As I write this I am flying back from a series of meetings in Eastern Europe where our ministry is looking to expand our ministry down to include high schools.  The one issue that came up more often than anything else was capacity.  How do we do that when we are stretched with everything else.  That is precisely the point when we talk about growing ministries on our campuses.

In last week’s tip, I talked about filtering a leader.  Today, I want us to consider growing a ministry from one leader to a team of leaders.  As we build a leadership team, we build capacity.  Some of these thoughts came from a roundtable of metro leaders some time ago.  We gave them this specific topic of developing a leadership team when all you have is a key leader.

Building a leadership team

  • Teach that lone leader to delegate, for their sake (so their burden of work is lighter) and for the sake of developing other students.
  • The cell group small group concept naturally lends itself to raising up additional leaders with the different roles in the group, although some staff feel the cell group philosophy is a bit complicated for students to roll out at first.
  • Use data from the Key Volunteer Application to understand the leadership elements of your existing key leaders.  It is here that you learn who their friends might be and what other strength areas are needed to complement them.
  • Is there a nearby church with a college ministry?  Ask your leader to find out the contact person for you.  You as the coach of that student, or the student could themselves, check with the church to find other potential leaders to come along side.
  • Help the student realize if they can just find a couple more people, they are making progress that’s valuable.
  • Help currently involved students to take initial steps of ownership, so that over time, leaders can be grown from within.
  • Coach them to do simple gathering events, like FSK’s.  A table may surface new leaders.
  • Ask key contacts to see if they have other ideas.  This helps them to problem solve.
  • Train leaders understand what makes a leader and have them keep an eye out for it.
  • Teach seniors to find and recruit freshman.
  • Helping the leaders understand the vision for engaging underclassmen as “developing leaders”.  Consider sending emails to the whole student email list of the group, and do some “masses coaching” to help develop the vision of all the students, not just the key contact.  This helps ensure that vision gets ‘passed down’.

Some obstacles that keep this from happening

  • When our key contact is not able to communicate our coaching to the other people on campus.  (One solution is asking them to copy one of our materials and then just coach them in using that material).  This points to the need to find other leaders to help lead.
  • When another Christian group is present on campus, there can be a scarcity in finding more leaders.
  • Two-year schools are a big challenge because we don’t have much time to find leaders.  Just because they are at a two year school, does not mean that they won’t be at the same level as leaders we are used to at four–year schools.  Some are simply going there because it is not as expensive as four-year schools.  Two year schools can often provide leadership coming in to our four- year schools, though the time they have with us will be less.
  • It can be tough to get the students to practice  “selection” well in recruiting their own replacements or co-leaders.
  • Some of our target students still live at home and therefore have less of an adult mentality and more of a “youth group mentality”, or “minister to me.”  During a launch, they lack a model to look to and follow.  However, some schools have adult populations who we could tap into.
  • Relational issues tear up student leadership teams and block their synergy.
  • A lone leader can sometimes turn into a dictator and become inflexible in sharing power.
  • We may not see them do as much one–on-one discipleship, because they’ve never seen it modeled up close.  We will need to think in terms of more group discipleship.

Particularly useful tools or tactics that have worked

  • Using the transformational community article to show them how we want to go to the whole campus.
  • In the late fall, evaluate the movement as you coach it and then go over that evaluation in January with your key contact, helping them think through how they’ll prepare to pass on leadership.
  • Go over the critical path steps on the LLCP with your leader and talk about what needs to happen at each step and who might be able to help out. 
  • Of course, we rely a lot on retreats and conferences to help in this, opportunity to connect with them and train them in person.
  • Many teams do periodic leadership gatherings (monthly or more frequently) where the leaders from multiple campuses meet for dinner and then do training.  This also brings out peer coaching, and all the more if a couple can come from the same campus.
  • If you cannot do periodic leadership gatherings, consider doing a “training overnighter” once a semester.
  • When you visit the campus, meet with a potential leader to do ministry with them.  Have them share their testimony or lead a segment of a training you might be doing, even helping in a small group.
  • We want to look for people who can lead and gather others, we can always train them in ministry skills as we go along.

Most of us are on teams.  That is a value in our ministry.  Certainly we want that value to be reflected in our students and volunteers who are leading.  GodSquad has resources designed for them.  This page will lead you to articles on a Picture of a Leader, Servant Team Challenge, Developing a Leader and Assessing Your Leadership Style.  MissionalTeamLeader.com also has a wealth of resources in the Lead Your Team Filing Cabinet.


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