One of the pastors at my church was recently describing the annual process the staff uses to decide what outside ministries we’ll partner with as a church. Apparently, they vet the entire list each year to make sure values line up, they can trust the leadership of those entities, good work is actually taking place, etc.
It reminded me that this is one of our most important roles as shepherds of college students. We are (or should be) regularly vetting:
- Vetting potential student leaders
- Vetting the service opportunities we point students to
- Vetting the materials our small groups use
- Vetting the churches we encourage students to check out
- Vetting the guests we have speak to our students
- Vetting the details of what we teach
- Vetting the adults who volunteer in our ministries
- Vetting the summer opportunities we encourage students to check out
It sounds so… judgy, right? But this is really discernment, and it’s absolutely vital for us who have dared to serve as overseers of the souls of our students.
Part of the reason we love ministering to collegians is because they’re at such a crux in their lives AND are so moldable and impact-able! But that means that a little error or unhealth now can do great damage – and lasting damage. “Guard your life and doctrine closely” – and as shepherds, we have to guard their spiritual lives as much as we can, too.
I really mean this post as an encouragement for those faithfully “vetting”: You’re not wasting your time when you have students fill out those long applications for leadership, when you meet one-on-one with a potential adult mentor, when you write long emails to “make sure this guy’s legit,” when you follow up with those you trust to make sure a church is healthy, when you spend 30 minutes Googling to make sure that local ministry isn’t a cult, when you check out a rumor that somebody’s gone off the deep end.
It’s worth it. In fact, it’s ministry. You are doing an important work; don’t grow weary in well doing! I celebrate your faithfulness.
Of course, not all of us like detail-work, not all of us like to imagine that troublesome people-doctrines-practices can hurt our students, and not all of us like the conflict that can arise when we pursue wisdom and purity in our ministries.
But this is being a good shepherd, whether our personalities enjoy it or not.