Thursday, September 12, 2013

Students' "Ownership" of the Ministry

I have long believed that students owning the ministry as their own greatly strengthens the ministry. By owning, I mean they feel it is theirs and what they do matters. Students often "like" a ministry and attend it's functions and meetings, but they feel no responsibility or ownership of it.

In my fifth season on campus I have been reminded of this again and the huge value of their ownership. I am serving in as "Acting Director/Campus Minister" where I previously served. The Campus Minister who succeeded me resigned in August to take another position and the full time Assistant also resigned. Both left on great terms and there was no behind the scenes story.

I was concerned that some of the student leaders might walk away or just give a half hearted effort. This has not been the case. In fact, I would say it has energized them. They are keeping commitments and even more they are initiating things. Sometimes I have thought something was not done the way I think it ought to be done. Sometimes it was done as visually appealing as I might prefer.

But, when I have been tempted to correct or say, "Here's a better way", I have realized that it worked well, served the purpose AND it was done at their inititative. Most of the time I have swallowed my suggestions or coaching in order to not in any way dampen their sense of ownership!

I have experienced student's "extreme ownership" like this one other time. Several years ago my wife, Sue, was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer. She was going thru chemo. We made many trips to Little Rock to the Cancer Center and I went to each chemo treatment with her. We were building a new BCM Center at the time and that was consuming much of mymtime as well. I had a super Associate in Tim Stewart who was covering lots of bases.....and, the students owned the ministry and good things happened.

Ownership can be given by giving your students choices or options about direction and activities of the ministry. Beware of being over critical when they do it, but it's not the way you would do it. Think first that they did it and thank them. The coaching may come later when you sit down to evaluate or plan the next event.

Remember, nothing short of a special movement of God beats student ownership. Remember, there is a difference in "opinions" about how to do something and a right way and a wrong way. Don't let your opinions drown their ownership!

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