leadership farm teams for college ministry

For those of you at Semester System schools, hopefully the dust is settling and a semester-rhythm has been achieved (or feels close, at least). Perhaps small groups have started, ministry teams are go, and student leaders are student-leading.

But if that last category feels lighter than you’d like it to – either because you have fewer student leaders than you’d like, or because your leadership core needs to step it up a bit – or even if you’d simply like to do more to recruit and train student leaders, this week’s Fridea is for you:

Begin a leadership training small group that serves as a farm team for the future.

This wouldn’t have to be instead of your other groups or other programs, but a distinct, “extracurricular” opportunity for students to be trained in leadership. In fact, it might be better to start it four or five weeks into the school year.

You might even open the training to all those who are interested in leading anything, whether they hope to lead in your ministry or elsewhere, in ministry or in secular campus opportunities. These can even be present leaders – anybody who wants to grow stronger in leadership.

(In fact, this might even be an interesting recruitment tool for your ministry, drawing students to your group who want to lead! Or, on the other hand, you could help organize a cross-organizational leadership training group – how amazing would that be?)

Maybe you would lead this group; maybe a local minister would lead this group; maybe a succession of guest teachers would lead. Whatever the case, you get the chance to…

  • Find out who’s interested in leading (even freshmen)
  • Find out who’s qualified and committed enough to lead (far better than an application can reveal)
  • Recruit solid leaders who might not be brave enough to apply for a position but would like to learn more about leadership
  • Develop relationships with people before they become leaders, making it easier to oversee them once that time comes
  • Make a clear statement to your ministry that leadership training is important
  • Train your future leaders before they step into leadership roles
  • Impact future leaders who could serve all over campus over the next few years
  • Stay directly connected to one group of (particularly involved) students in your ministry, even if you don’t personally lead any other small groups, etc.

There are many possibilities for “off-structure” small groups in a campus ministry, “special topic” groups that take place outside of our normal small group offerings. This could be one of the most profitable.

[Last thought: something similar could be great for a brand-new ministry, as I discussed here.]

Remember, it’s Day 26 of College Union’s 40 Days of Prayer for Campus Ministry!


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  1. Ben,

    This is one of the approaches we have taken when it comes to recruiting and training leaders.

    We start this Sunday…2 weeks into our tri-mester. We will meet for 7 weeks and look at leadership from a Biblical point of view. We will also assess gifts and abilities, talk strategy, and so on.

    At the end, we will have a pool from which to draw our leaders.

    And something new for us this year…we are going to “install” our leaders in January, at the start of the second tri-mester. They will then lead through next December. So, a calendar year as opposed to an academic year. This should clear up headaches that come with new leaders at the beginning of a new school year next fall.

    I was actually planning a blog post on this very thing. Look for it soon.


  2. When I saw this, I actually thought you were going to be bringing together leaders through farming. Like, soil, seeds, water and time – farming. I was really excited about the idea of teaching students about tilling soil, and planting seeds, waiting for fruit to ripen, and how to harvest.

    But I guess this idea is good too.

  3. Nice.

    I will say that Under the Unpredictable Plant by Eugene Peterson has been highly formative for me as a college minister – and he definitely talks about that stuff in there, quote Wendell Berry and making other observations about farming & ministry.

    Sorry, however, that this was something different. :)

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