The more recent conversation in our Student Life Leadership Team has been about defining our roles (this post) and focusing our meetings (next post). Now that we’ve established some large-frame infrastructures to support our ministry, we’ve developed some new growing edges around our roles and the need to more clearly define them. Here’s what we’ve come up with so far.

Small Group Leaders

Their roles need to remain focused on the students. We don’t get our small group leaders involved with all the logistics of creative planning, leading games, worship, etc. We want them totally focused on the relational aspect of ministering to students and connecting with parents.

Ministry Leads

Middle School, JV, and Varsity (Dave, Chrissy, and Josiah)
Their roles are primarily focused on

  1. Small Group Leaders. They need to channel their energy toward developing community among the small group leaders in their area of ministry, their needs, their personal lives, what they’re struggling with in their small groups, etc.
  2. Teaching. Their role is to provide good weekly teaching (using the curriculum, see the Pastor’s role below) for the purpose of inspiring students in their spiritual journey and setting up great discussions/experiences for the small groups.
  3. Caring. Their role is also to provide a caring presence and central identity for the students and parents in their ministry area.

Student Life Support Staff

Program Director.
Sarah’s role is to maintain all our small group systems for attendance, assimilation (welcoming and fully embracing new students), retention (making sure our students know they belong to our community, are wanted, and are missed when they’re gone), as well as thorough communications, event registrations, and general office administration. But she also provides a caring presence and ministry investment among our small group leaders, students, and parents.

Worship/Creative Director.
Seth’s role is to provide leadership and creativity for our worship experiences with the FUEL band and other creative teams.

Technical Director.
Mike’s role is solely to provide technical support for our audio/visual needs.

Pastor of Student Life

I (Jim) need to focus my role on my own vital few, my “Pareto Priorities,” the 20% of what I do that results in 80% of my true impact. I’m currently concluding that these priorities are as follows.

  1. Shaping the culture of our ministry and community by
    • Clarifying and communicating our theology, our philosophy, and our strategy to our staff, ministry leads, small group leaders, key student leaders, and parents through various means of training and communications
    • Modeling this theology, philosophy, and strategy by Caring for staff ministry leads, small group leaders, key student leaders, and parents
  2. Developing the content & curriculum by
    • Leading the collaborative process of developing our curriculum (what we teach and how we choose or write its curriculum)
    • Writing the curriculum (establishing each lesson’s primary passage of scripture, bottom line, and teaching points, and small group questions)
  3. Teaching/Speaking
    • I’m usually the one who gives the message when we combine all three of our groups for one large gathering
    • I’m also in a rotation for teaching each of the ministry groups balanced with weeks that I don’t teach at all which allows me to invest energy in some of the other things above
  4. Caring. As with all the others and their roles, I must provide a caring pastoral presence and availability to all students, parents, leaders, and staff.

The challenge for me is to stick with my role’s priorities and not meddle too much in other people’s roles. After all, my heart’s first love is kids and teaching. But if I meddle too much in these areas, I’d be stealing from other people’s ministry and confusing our strategies. Another challenge for me is to learn how to clarify, communicate, and model in a way that truly does shape the culture.

Well, that’s where we’re at right now. What do you think?

Author: Jim Murphy

Associate Pastor | NextGen Ministries Covenant Church, Bemidji, MN

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