commission your student leaders (a fridea)

I had the awesome chance to speak to about 60 church college ministry student leaders yesterday, and I was aiming to raise the bar on their ministry this year – helping them see themselves as truly college ministers and, therefore, even as missionaries.

And while there are various ways to do it, I think it’s valuable to do what we can to help our student leaders understand the weight of their task. While there are several ways to do that, one comes via this week’s College Ministry Fridea: Commission your student leaders.

If we want to get technical about it, simply appointing your leaders is, in fact, “commissioning” them. But this week’s Fridea is more about helping those leaders feel properly awed by what’s before them. So while you may consider your student leaders already “commissioned” to this year of student leadership… do they feel commissioned by the way that’s all been handled?

If not, or if that could happen better, here’s some methods that might work with your group:

1. Hold a commissioning ceremony (even at a church)

You might make a real impact in leaders’ lives by performing a commissioning ceremony at the beginning of the year – with all the solemnity, instruction, and even “pomp” that gets the point across without overdoing it for your group. And even if you’re not a church-based college ministry, consider holding this ceremony in front of a gathered congregation of believers; being commissioned in front of a congregation might even more effectively prepare students than if it’s just in front of their peers. (Regardless of where you hold the ceremony, you could even have students invite friends and family!!!)

2. Write letters (and let students know)

You could take the time to send a letter to students’ back-home contacts: parents, pastors, youth pastors. Announce the student’s leadership position, the roles they’ll be playing, and prayer requests. While this is a good idea anyway, it will also raise the bar for the student himself – provided you give him a copy of the letter and the recipient list.

3. Honor in front of peers (even regularly)

I’m a big believer in the “You cultivate what you honor” principle. But not only does putting your leadership in front of their peers help raise up new leaders, it also helps “raise up” those present leaders even more! Of course, while this might look something like the commissioning ceremony, you could also honor/terrify your leaders through pictures on the wall, names and contact info on the web page, or other up-front means.

one last note

If this whole idea of “commissioning” leaders in front of a church, letting their home base know about their role, or publicizing their role with their peers seems really uncomfortable… are you sure you’ve got the kind of leaders you want to cultivate more of? Always good to think about.

For all the Frideas, including several that apply to the end of the summer or the beginning of the school year, see this post for a synopsis of each!

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