Stop Waiting for More Staff

Tim Casteel

In the last three years our staff team has shrunk from 10 to 4 (hmmm. . . what does that say about my leadership?).  Yet in the same amount of time our movement size has more than doubled.  And student ownership, by necessity, has gone through the roof.

Don’t get me wrong, staff are indispensible for our mission.  But if you’re anything like me, when things aren’t going well you default to the dream, “If I only had more staff . . .”

I think it’s a given that we all want increased student ownership.  I want to share what I think is THE best idea I’ve ever seen in empowering students to lead:  Student Staff

While not a new idea, it was new to us last year (via University of Oklahoma Cru).  The past two years we have had zero staff women and Student Staff was a stopgap for us while we held out for the Region to bless us with staff women. But in the process Student Staff has become our team’s favorite ministry strategy we’ve ever implemented.

What we require of Student Staff is that they to come to staff meeting from 9-noon on Thursdays and that they lead in a significant way beyond the normal student leader who leads a study and disciples.

I was a bit skeptical- how will students merely coming to staff meeting translate into impactful student leadership? But something happens when you have your key student leaders in your staff meeting. They see the vision and the heart behind what we are doing and there is 100% buy in. And that buy-in begins to permeate beyond the student staff as their passion for the Mission spreads among other student leaders. For us, it has redefined what Student Ownership looks like - Student Staff are leading in exactly the same capacity as staff.

The payoff has been huge for us.  We’ve completely turned over our weekly meeting to one of the student staff.  Last year our 2 student staff girls had over 50 girls in the 3 Bible studies they led. And maybe the best long-term benefit: Student Staff enables your best student leaders to test drive full-time ministry.  3 of this year’s Student Staff have decided to intern with us next year.

Our goal is to have the next generation of Student Staff picked by April 1 (so they can plan with the staff team for the fall).  So as a team we spend these early spring months discussing potential students and meeting with those we want to ask to be Student Staff for the fall.

A few more details on what it looks like for us:
- We have 6 student staff: 4 girls and 2 guys (the imbalance due to the fact that we don’t have any staff women)
- 5 of the 6 are seniors
- We don’t pay the students (though I know other campuses have their student staff raise support)
- We do pay for their Fall Retreat and Winter Conference

I’d love to hear other team’s experiences with Student Staff or other ways of increasing students ownership.  What have been your team’s biggest wins in increasing student ownership?  

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