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Insights and thoughts on the world of student ministry, multi-site, and the potential to be great...again...too soon?

What Does Small Group Leader Commitment Look Like?

After sharing with you about the "Signing Day" we had for leaders over in the Ideas section, a few have asked what we ask our Small Group Leaders to commit to when they sign-up for the year.  I'll give you a little bit of the history, where we're at now, and share with you the Small Group Leader's covenant we ask them to sign.

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Traditionally we've asked SGLs to sign-up for the school year of ministry.  We run small groups from September-May on Wednesday nights for middle school (Oasis) and Thursday nights for high school (Wake). At the end of the year we would send a survey out to our leaders to get their feedback and insight from the past year which has always been valuable & has helped shape what we do over the years. In that survey we would ask them two questions "Are you planning on returning in the fall as a SGL?" and "Are you planning on being a part of our summer programming?".  They were given three answer options to choose from; yes, no, and maybe

The yes and no answer proved very fruitful but the maybes and the no answers left us in quite the quandary. One, we were not really asking leaders to commit to anything in the summer and two it wasn't until August when we were truly finding out how many leaders we actually had returning for the upcoming year.  We began realizing that the culture we had created needed to change especially as we began to change up our philosophy & approach for summer ministry.

Over the last two years we have very much changed things up from the philosophy of "taking the summer off". We did so after our NextGen Pastor at the time, EJ Swanson, challenged us with the thought of "Why do we scale back during the months in which students have the most free time?" Too many opportunities we're being missed thus we began dreaming of what it would look like to create intentional opportunities for community, discipleship, and service throughout the summer. This change in philosophy coupled with the desire to be better stewards of fulfilling the vital role of a SGL led us to where we are at now.

A key to this change-up in commitment was communicating it early and often.  At our Leader Training event in August we began to let them know that we were going to make a change from how we have traditionally asked leaders to commit.  We shared that we would be asking them to commit in April for the following year and that the commitment would now be a year long commitment (or in this case a baker's dozen commitment) from May to May.

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I also explained the heart and vision behind the switch up. That same language is included in the SGL Covenant that we ask every leader to sign (click on those last few words to see an example of one of our older SGL Covenants).  I continued to reiterate the heart and vision of this throughout our monthly SGL gatherings during the year, as well as, through our bi-weekly SGL emails in the two months prior to Commitment Day. 

In the weeks leading up to Commitment Day our staff spent time meeting with leaders, grabbing meals with them, exchanging texts, tapping out Morse code messages...as we wanted to create space for conversations to happen, as well as, to personally hear from them any concerns or questions they had about the ministry or being a SGL in the year ahead. 

Through all of that, I can say that I have been truly humbled, encouraged, & inspired.  I am humbled by the commitment, love, joy, and faithfulness these leaders have to the Lord, to these students, and to the ministry God has allowed us to be a part of.  I am encouraged to serve alongside such remarkable brothers & sisters in Christ and inspired by how they faithfully pour out into the lives of students from the overflow of their hearts and how they look to build up the church all unto the glory of God.

I'm excited to see what the next 12 months hold as together we faithfully commit to pouring out the love of Christ to the students and families God has blessed us to serve.

Let me know your thoughts. What does commitment look like for your SGLs?  How can I be praying for you, for them, and your ministry?