who decides?

One of my college minister buddies Abby brought up a good discussion last night:

How much do students decide about your ministry, and how much does staff decide?

When it comes to the big things (a retreat, a teaching series, an outreach) or the little things (what you put on the T-shirt, the design of your Orientation booth, an icebreaker in this week’s Large Group Meeting), who decides those things? You or the students? Are you always taking an informal (or formal) vote of your collegians? Or are the adults making all the decisions (or at least all the important ones)? Or somewhere in between?

If your balance in this area is more about personality than prayer and experience and strategy, then you need to rethink your approach. This is a very nuanced issue. Our personalities and “our own understanding” won’t help us enough here. We can’t let the fact that we really, really want students to like us… or that we’re all-out perfectionists… or any other personality trait make this decision for us.

  • There may be lots of times for college ministers to make an executive decision – even in stuff that seems pretty small
  • There may be lots of times for students to have complete ownership of an issue – even in stuff that seems pretty big

How you make this decision says a lot about your college ministry. As you approach this question (and most college ministers probably approach it daily), is your choice of “executive decision vs. student ownership” coming from a place of wise, thoughtful strategy – and even theology of your roles as both shepherd and ministry-equipper? Or is your response to this issue really just based on your “leadership style” and personality?


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