I have long been a believer in “testing and approving” students before they step into leadership within a college ministry. I know I’m not alone in that.
Along with that line of thought, college ministers will sometimes appoint leaders directly from among the “tested and approved,” instead of opening up the process ministry-wide. For example, future small group leaders might have to be “nominated” by present small group leaders, a “leadership council” might be hand-picked from among those who have served regularly for a year or more, and so on.
I’m not particularly opposed to the general idea of pursuing students who have proven faithful. In fact, I think it’s pretty smart to explicitly encourage obviously strong students lead within the campus ministry.
On the other hand, I’ve seen good reason to make the PATH to leadership at least available for everybody (while still using great discernment about whom we actually allow to lead). I’ve come to recognize that some great leaders may simply not be noticed through the “normal” means. If your ministry is larger than 30 people (and perhaps even if it isn’t), it’s very likely there are strong potential leaders you don’t know about.
Sometimes without even realizing it (and other times on purpose), we make leadership opportunities rather secret…
Introverts can slip through the cracks, as can recent Transfer Students, as can those longtime Christians who weren’t “radically saved” within your ministry. We might not realize the new arrival to our ministry has been serving faithfully at his church for 2 years, that the girl you hadn’t seen for 6 months has been studying abroad (“So that’s where you were!), or that that one alcoholic freshman has actually become a radical Jesus follower by Junior year.
We can miss people for a variety of reasons – maybe even just because they don’t fit our own personality. That’s why I think it’s worth making those leadership paths available – announcing opportunities, offering applications and/or interviews, and so on.
Take it from somebody who has slipped through the cracks himself before: You might be surprised at who God has brought to your college ministry.
Happy February! And… the pic is from Colorado School of Mines.