commission your student leaders (four days of frideas, part 3)

As promised, here’s the makeup Fridea after missing September 1st! As most of us enjoy the first week or two of the school year, I wanted to pull out an old Fridea that may fit the bill right at this time. Here’s that idea from August 2009, edited a bit.

I had the awesome chance to speak to a church’s college ministry student leaders yesterday, and I aimed to raise the bar on their ministry this year. I told them they are truly college ministers in their role – and therefore each a missionary to their own campus tribe.

It’s valuable to do what we can to help our student leaders understand the weight of their task. While there are several methods for that, one way is to formally commission your student leaders.

Do your student leaders truly feel “commissioned,” called to a great task with great importance and great responsibility? If not, here are some methods that might help:

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. (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 – especially if 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 regular, obvious 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.

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