Student Leadership Team Basics: Covenants

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:

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Jen Bradbury on Youth Ministry

Jen serves as the director of youth ministry at Faith Lutheran Church in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. A veteran youth worker, Jen holds an MA in Youth Ministry Leadership from Huntington University. Jen is the author of The Jesus Gap: What Teens Actually Believe about Jesus (The Youth Cartel). Her writing has also appeared in YouthWorker Journal, Immerse, and The Christian Century. When not doing ministry, she and her husband Doug can be found hiking, backpacking, and traveling.

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