Potential leaders fill out a 14-question application that covers everything from describing your personal testimony to addressing potential differences in theology, as well as listing perceived strengths and weaknesses. Current leaders receive teaching on what we're looking for in new leaders, and they're commissioned to pray and submit the names of those they would recommend for leadership. Some potential leaders are asked to apply based on a current leader's recommendation. Others choose to apply on their own.
Current student leaders then work through the applications and vote on who should move to the next step of the process: an interview. The interviews are one hour long with a staff member and a student leader. They then give a report and recommendation to the entire student leadership team. The current leaders vote on who should become student leaders.
Staff members are permitted to share opinions, but we don't vote. We realize that the student leaders see their peers outside of the church walls and have the clearest insight on others' faithfulness and leadership potential. It also allows our current leaders to take ownership of the future of the ministry and learn how to select leaders. Mistakes are sometimes made in this selection process, but that, too, is a learning experience for our student leaders.
While this selection process takes time, it's essential that we have quality, committed student leaders. By the time they're selected and say "yes" to leading, we can be sure they're all in. That's important because we ask a lot of our leaders. In our commitment to develop leaders, we require several hours of weekly meetings for training and development.
I realize how spoiled I am in campus ministry because we get a lot of time from of our leaders. They typically don't have spouses or children, so they can commit to the numerous weekly meetings we require. But it's still a commitment. There are a lot of other things that vie for their attention on a college campus. Each week we require our leaders to attend a two-hour meeting, which includes leadership development and skills training for leading a small group. Each leader also attends a weekly mentoring meeting with a staff member. Leaders of Bible study groups also commit to a weekly meeting for inductive study with other leaders. On average, our leaders commit to 5 hours weekly of leadership development plus their weekly small-group meeting. While that may seem like a lot, we heavily invest in our leaders because we know that God is developing them into men and women who are change-agents for his kingdom.
In-Depth Study Without a Guide
Because our Bible study groups don't follow a study or guide, it's essential that we train leaders how to study the text for themselves. New leaders attend a 1–2 hour training session which teaches the process of inductive Bible study (observation, interpretation, and application) and explains the main differences in Bible translations.
Too often, people want to jump to applying Scripture to their lives before understanding what the passage is actually saying. It's essential that Life Group discussions start with inductive study so that group members can appropriately apply the principles. For this reason, our Life Group leaders are trained to lead their group to spend time observing the text, interpreting what it means, and discussing any questions. Only then will they ask application questions.