Leading a Team

Empowering Staff Through Staff Jobs


One of the ironies of Cru is the amount of work expected from the busiest person on the staff team--the team leader. He is expected to be a master of all trades and a jack at everything else. He not only is expected to minister, motivate and manage his team, but also is expected to think, plan, and come up with every good idea that the ministry is to have. He is the direction setter, strategy formulator, spokesperson and coach. On top of that, he is expected to be an expert administrator--handling the finances and submitting reports on time. It is ironic that the person who is the busiest is asked to do the most work. The result is that most directors are overworked while their staff are underchallenged and under developed. Why?


In many ways, the organizational structure of many campus ministry teams is antiquated and obsolete. Our structure is based on a model from the 60’s and 70’s when staff were on campus for less than two years. We have one, maybe two, Team Leaders, who are in charge of everything. What do the staff do? Evangelism and discipleship, which translated means the same things students are doing...only more of it. All of the staff except for the team leaders have no position or do anything different than the students do. Sometimes the students do it with greater effectiveness. A business consultant who looked at our organizational structure observed that our structure was pre-industrial revolution--everyone is doing the same thing. There is no specialization--no division of labor.

Just think how different the situation is in a local church. When a pastor first begins in a small church, he is more or less a one man show. He does it all- -preaches, teaches, works with youth, answers the telephone, visits shut-ins, etc. If there is a job to be done, he does it. When the pastor or board hires another staff member, he or she is hired to do a specific job--different than the one the senior pastor is doing. When the youth pastor asks the senior pastor, “What should I do with the youth on Wednesday?” The senior pastor should respond, “I have no idea. That’s what you are being paid to figure out.” In other words, each person is added to the team to take on a responsibility for a different area of ministry. Although all of the staff are committed to the same mission, each staff makes his/her significant contribution in a specific area.


1) If the team leader lacks the giftedness or the time, many jobs are simply left undone. Because the staff are neither qualified nor entrusted with major responsibilities, no one is thinking about recruiting for the Fall Conference. No one is thinking about the next evangelistic thrust. No one is designing the campus brochure. A lot of things fall through the cracks. The size and depth of the movement reflect and is constrained by the abilities and time constraints of the team leader.

2) Senior staff are not being developed or used to their full potential. Most plateau fairly rapidly. Although they may describe themselves as being busy and under the pile, their busyness may not be contributing to their development or effectiveness. Many staff feel underused and underchallenged though not necessarily underworked. Many senior staff have expressed frustration for lack of development. Although they are committed to evangelism and discipleship they don’t feel very significant in carrying out this job year after year.

3) As team leaders, we tend to ignore our most valuable commodity--the staff, in order to work with students. Remember this: Your staff were at sometime someone’s best and most valuable students!

4) Staff don’t “own” the ministry. They often are apathetic and seem willing to contribute only when the decision affects them. (Think of your last staff meeting for a current illustration).

5) Staff are made team leaders and are expected to lead “leaders of leaders” (staff ) without ever having the opportunity to do so beforehand.

6) We have allowed our structure to limit our leadership development. Assuming that a staff member wants to stay in a current location and his or her team leaders are also planning on staying, then after our basic training we have no real plan to develop senior staff.

7) We expect too little from our staff. When secular companies are developing their future leaders they do not hesitate to entrust major responsibilities to recent graduates. These responsibilities develop their human resources. Many times our staff have had more ministry responsibilities on projects and on their campus than they have as full-time staff.

What do all staff need?

  • A sense of achievement--a feeling that I am genuinely contributing to the cause.
  • Recognition--somebody cares and notices what I do.
  • Challenging work--not any student could do what I do.
  • Responsibility--others are counting on me.
  • Personal growth and progress in my career path--I am growing. I’m obtaining more skills and becoming more proficient. I’m ready to take on greater (not lesser) responsibilities. (Think of how many want to “step down.”) I’m not just doing the same thing every year.
  • A sense of dignity and professionalism--I am a competent professional in what I do.
  • Unique Contribution--I am an expert in what I do. I can do some things and know more about some aspect of this job than anyone else in our ministry.


There are two types of work that campus staff do. The first is the technical work--evangelism, follow-up, leading groups, etc. The second type of work we do is management work--”getting result through people.” Often times staff are promoted on the basis of proficiency in technical work but flounder in the job because they have never learned how to manage and work with and through other staff. If we want to expand our leadership base, we must be giving our staff more opportunities to develop. Our overall ministry will expand only as leadership is developed. Leadership development is leadership experience.


If we want to develop our staff then it is incumbent that each staff have a specific “job” in addition to his or her responsibilities in evangelism and discipleship. Each needs to be “hired” to become an expert in one area or aspect of your ministry. He or she needs to be a specialist as well as a generalist. We’re not talking about delegated responsibilities. Delegated responsibilities have to do with getting others to help me with my job. This is different. These are actual jobs that the staff are being paid to do, much like other organizations and churches. Yes, we are all committed to evangelism and discipleship but we also have a specific job that we are expected to accomplish.


  • Each job is “owned” by the staff in charge and is autonomous in its responsibility. If the staff does not carry it out or motivate others to do so, it simply doesn’t get done. No one bails him or her out.
  • Each job is “director level” in that the other staff are subordinate to him or her in this area. We cooperate together as a team in each area in helping each “Director” to succeed.
  • All jobs require the development of management skills--planning, organizing, leading, controlling and staffing. They will learn to motivate and lead other leaders.
  • Each staff will develop his/her yearly plan and present it to the staff for review, modification, and implementation. This needs to be done to prevent overscheduling.
  • Each staff is expected to be an “expert” in his/her job. He needs to read books, articles, magazines, listen to tapes, and interact with other staff from other campus to develop expertise. He or she becomes a resource for the other staff in their area of expertise. Each staff need to eat, sleep, and breath his job.
  • Staff become the “resident experts” in their area of ministry. You and the other staff may be purposefully ignorant. “I don’t know, but Rabs is the expert in that area.”
  • Each staff meets with the team leader as needed to coordinate responsibilities and, at times get suggestions.
  • Each staff leads his/her area of responsibility at staff meeting.
  • If staff have no interest in their own leadership development you can always give him/her the delegated job of printing or refreshments.


To begin with you should probably give the staff jobs to those who have training, giftedness or abilities in those areas. Normally staff will thrive in an area that they are good in. Do you have a gifted evangelist? Make him or her your Director of Evangelism. Do you have a person with administrative gifts? Make him/ her you Director of Operations. At your discretion and in accordance with the desires of your staff, you can rotate staff jobs every year, every few years or not at all. More oft than not, it will take a couple of years to really become an “expert” in a staff job.


The following may give you an idea of what type of staff jobs we are talking about. Obviously, the larger your staff team, the more jobs you can create. If you have a smaller team you will have to combine responsibilities. You need to decide which jobs are for new staff and which are reserved for senior staff (or whether new staff should hold a director level job). You will also need to decide with your co-MTL if one of you will take one of these jobs.



The purpose of this job is to ensure that all of the details of the first 6 weeks are taken care of. This would include overseeing Move-in Week, freshmen surveys (both doing them and following them up), launching freshmen studies. It can actually be adventagious to break this into two jobs -- First 2 Weeks (surveys, move-in) and First Six Weeks (follow up and launching Bible studies).


The purpose of this job is to develop and implement effective and culturally relevant methods and strategies of evangelism to ensure that all who are interested can hear and respond to the gospel. Responsibilities might include relational evangelism strategies, evangelism training, outreaches, etc.


The purpose of this job is to:

  1. Provide oversight to discipleship content
  2. Cast vision for discipleship to students and staff
  3. Track multiplication in the movement by keeping up with who is being discipled (and who needs to be)


The purpose of this position is to design a recruiting strategy for all conferences, summer projects, Stints and staff.


The Director of Operations is primarily responsible for the financial and administrative duties of the campus ministry. He/she pays the bills, collects and processes money, compiles the statistics and sends in the appropriate reports.


  • The team leader is freed up from the responsibility of being the resident expert in every area of ministry. The MTL can major on the responsibilities of imparting vision, directing the ministry and shepherding his team.
  • The team leader will have more time to do what they are good at. Less time will be taken up with the non- essentials of the job.
  • The team leader can use this opportunity to develop and evaluate the staff.
  • More will be accomplished as staff assume responsibility for the ministry. One team leader remarked, “I used to dread Fridays because it meant doing all those reports. Now I enjoy them because the Operations Director compiles all the reports and hands me a summary of what is going on.”
  • You don’t have to “beat every drum” every week. You now have staff who can get excited about evangelism, discipleship, recruiting, etc.
  • If your staff are giving just one hour of think time/ week to this area of ministry, that is much more than you will.



  • Staff feel like they are really proficient in one thing-- that they are viewed by others as an expert. The sense of significance increases.
  • Staff feel more closure in their staff job than with evangelism and discipleship (a job which is never finished).
  • Staff “own” the ministry. They pay attention at staff meeting and spend time thinking and dreaming about their area of ministry. In a word, they are empowered. • Staff are learning how to motivate and lead other staff. They will be training your staff.
  • Staff confidence and competence is growing. After finishing basic training (or concurrent with it) each staff is asked to take a Director level position on the staff team as part of their ongoing training or career track. Each staff could conceivably direct each area of ministry over a 5-7 year period. We, as a ministry will be producing competent leaders for stateside and overseas ministry. Each staff will become “Director Ready.”


Your job as a team leader is much like that of a conductor. You don’t need to impress your staff by letting them know that you know more about their job than they do (though this may be true). An orchestra conductor may not know how to play any single instrument better than anyone in his orchestra. That’s not his job. His job, like yours, is to develop and empower his players to contribute to the overall accomplishment of his orchestra. You will drive your staff off if you treat the staff simply as your puppets.


  • Think through the logical breakdown of staff jobs.
  • Get staff input on what they would prefer to do.
  • With your co-MTL assign staff jobs to all qualified staff.
  • Train your staff in writing a job description for his/ her job. Meet with each staff to get agreement on what the job is.
  • Make sure that you communicate that this is his/her job. He/she is expected to develop and grow into this job. He/she is to become the “resident expert.” It he/ she does not do it, it won’t get done.
  • Give time at each staff meeting (or as needed) for each “director” to train, update, or motivate the staff.
  • If you are hesitant to assign these jobs to your staff, what are your alternatives? Either you are doing these by yourself or these jobs aren’t getting done.

Related Topics:
Full-time Missionary

©1994-2020 Cru. All Rights Reserved.