I love a party! I’m the girl who carries “emergency sprinkles” and a bag of confetti in her purse—because you never know when you may need them, right? However, a celebration is more than confetti being thrown and adding sprinkles atop a delicious bakery item. Instead, celebration is a way to help others transition, move on, and close out a season.
In young adult and college ministry, leadership teams are constantly in transition. Some leaders return to serve another year, some will move on to other ministry opportunities, some will graduate, and others may wander a bit before coming back. Celebrating at the end of each year, term, or season allows for natural breaks and the formation of new teams and new endeavors.
As you consider your own ministry leaders, here are a few key reasons to celebrate your teams:
- Celebrating what has happened. This is a wonderful time to celebrate what God has done within the team and through the team. Team members can share from their various perspectives, and you can empower the team as you encourage them by sharing from your perspective.
- Creating a natural break. Have you ever felt like a season isn’t over, there was unfinished business, or things just didn’t finish well? A celebration at the end of these seasons allows everything to happen naturally. This year’s team mission is complete, and next year’s team is ready to start. Leadership roles can change and essential transitions can occur.
- Empowering the next set of leaders. A celebration allows the next leader to confidently move into their new position without gray areas and murky water. A tradition of “passing the baton” could be created, and this ceremonious act then represents so much more. Current leaders step down, new leaders step up, and healthy boundaries are created.
- Bragging on leaders and creating healthy ego. How often do our leaders not know what they have done well? Bragging on them publically can be a way to help them to see how God has used them and the impact they have made. If a leader already has a healthy ego, he or she can be used to brag on others.
- Affirming the time and effort leaders have given to serve. A handwritten note, a snack or meal, and a few words can go a long way for a leader. Maybe the celebration starts out in your home with a box of brownies and a note. Then, over the years, as leaders value this time more and more, and your budget gets a chance to grow for this celebration, the time becomes a meal at swanky restaurant, a handwritten note from you and a team leader, a token gift (such as a shirt, coffee tumbler, or backpack), and time to reflect and praise their service. Honestly, this needs to reflect your ministry culture more than anything else.
If you’re curious, I currently take my teams out for dessert at a “swanky” restaurant (swanky: nicer than where they normally go), where they get a $5 mug with our logo on it, every team member gets a handwritten note from myself and the student director. We share how we have grown, where we failed, what we did well, and how we saw God at work on our campus, and we close by praying over the incoming student director.
In seminary, I had a professor who tied our final grade to coming to the final class period that was always a party in the evening. She taught me so much about ending well and, in a sense, tying a bow on the end of an experience. I have seen such freedom to lead and growth to be released in my student leaders since I began celebrating the end of a leadership season. So, gather your leaders (and some confetti) and celebrate this past year while looking forward!
Dr. Beth Masters works with college students at Mississippi College where she is the Director of Christian Life and Ministries. She also serves as a Ministry-Based Faculty member at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in the area of Collegiate Ministry. Beth loves young adults, baking, and coffee.