Clear communication greatly contributes to effective ministry, especially when you’re dealing with your ministry’s leaders. When it comes to student leadership teams, one thing that can aid in this process is establishing a covenant.
A covenant is essentially a contract. I use that term with my leadership team because of how it’s used throughout Scripture. God makes a covenant with Abraham, and with Noah. He establishes a new covenant with us, the fulfillment of which is Jesus.
Leadership team covenants establish expectations for the team, including how to interact with one another and your larger church community. They should reflect your team’s values as well as what you look for in a student leader. Though not everything on your covenant needs to be concrete, wherever possible, give specific numbers and examples.
Include the covenant with your student leadership team application. Ask both teens and their parents to sign it as part of their application. This ensures that potential student leaders and parents know what will be expected of them as student leaders. By signing the covenant, they’re promising to honor it if selected to be part of the leadership team.
Another benefit of including the covenant as part of the application process is that by clearly communicating your expectations, it becomes part of a teen’s self-selection process in deciding whether or not to apply for your leadership team. For example, applications for my ministry’s student leadership team were due Sunday. One girl who’d taken an application approached me and explained that after reviewing the team covenant and realizing how much was required of her, she’d chosen not to apply. She didn’t feel as though she could faithfully fulfill her commitment to both this team as well as the extracurricular activities she’s a part of at school. That’s a decision that I wholeheartedly respect and applaud.
For an example of a leadership team covenant, here’s the one I use in my ministry:
If I’m accepted to our high school youth ministry’s Student Leadership Team, I commit to
- Making our high school leadership team a priority in my life
- Attending 4-6 Leadership Team meetings over the summer plus an overnight Leadership Team Retreat
- Attending 80% of the weekly Leadership Team Meetings from September 1 – May 31
- Attending 75% of our regular high school youth ministry activities (held on Sunday mornings & Wednesday nights) each month
- Attending our youth ministry’s social and service events to provide Student Leadership at them
- Faithfully attending worship
- Attending our church’s annual meeting in January
- Working with the youth director to fulfill my specific role on the Leadership Team
- Taking risks – even if I fail
- Looking for opportunities to serve (both inside & outside of our youth ministry)
- Looking out for loners and visitors – even if it means sacrificing time with my own friends
- Being flexible and encouraging
- Consistently demonstrating a positive attitude
- Trying new things
- Considering the needs of the whole community above my own
- Speaking highly of our high school youth ministry, as well as it’s Youth Director, adult leaders, and other students
- Dealing with conflict directly with the people involved
- Taking steps to actively grow as a leader, including by reading a leadership book and discussing it with the team during the Summer & Fall as well as by blogging weekly to share my ideas about specific topics with the team
Taking steps to grow spiritually – Individually and in community with one another.
Your turn: Do you use a covenant with your student leaders? If so, what do you include on it?
Other posts in this series: