At times leading a young adult ministry can be lonely and at times too many leaders make moving forward impossible. What if we could find the right balance for our individual contexts that allow ministry to flourish and more disciples to be made? Common goals are needed as well as a vision for accomplishing something great before people will follow a leader and especially before leaders can work together.
Over my years in college ministry I have had students step down from volunteer leadership positions, be asked to step away from their role as a leader, and be removed as leaders. In those times, both as a church-based and campus-based college minister, I have had those difficult conversations one-on-one or with a small group of people. I haven’t included another college minister until recently.
When a student leader came to see me about stepping down from a campus leadership role for a number of reasons, we had one of those conversations. We talked about why he was making this choice and the reasons behind the decision; then we dug deep to work through the issues at hand. The student is active in a local church and serves in a ministry at the university. Typically, I would have let the college pastor at the church know and may have asked for input on how to handle things. However, this time, I asked the college pastor to join us as the student shared the decision to step down with those they led.
Why does this matter? Together, the college pastor and I were able to support our leader, show that we still loved the student, and communicate our desire to stay connected to him. Also, we were able to introduce students to the new leaders who would be filling in for the time. All of the students were able to see adults who would love and support them while they worked through things.
Personally, I felt like this solidified the relationship between the local churches and the ministry teams I work with on campus. We weren’t segregated as we worked with a common student—we stood together for a common goal. I realize that the campus and church relationship can be difficult at times but when we can find ways to work together it is such an amazing picture of the family of God.
As young adult ministry leaders, we get a chance show students how to work together, how to give prominence to the local church (which will be with our students past graduation), and how to handle difficult situations. I’m not saying that we handled things perfectly but I have seen fruit from the situation and we’ve been affirmed in the decisions that were made.
The real question becomes, how can we lead together? How can campus and church ministries work better together, share leaders, and reach the campus? If you have a creative idea that has worked in your context would you please share? We would love to hear about how you are reaching the campus through such a partnership!
Beth Masters has served college students going on 15 years on multiple campuses in FL, LA, and MS. Currently she serves at Mississippi College as the Director of Christian Life and Ministries while also serving as a ministry-based faculty member at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.