Posted by: Joe Blanchard | May 24, 2010

Rear View Mirror :: part 2 ::

Continuing the new Monday series “Rear View Mirror,” here are 3 things that I’ve learned over the past school year.

1 – Clarity, Clarity, Clarity.
At the beginning of the school year, our staff sat down to discuss and define what a ‘successful’ year would be. How could we look back in May and say, “Yes! We had a successful year?” We answered that question on an individual level and for our ministry overall.

We would define overall success by answering these questions: Have students made their faith their own, have students submitted to Christ and been baptized, have we grown numerically, did new student leaders rise up, are we a stronger/tighter community, and are we attracting new students?

I can’t tell you the power answering those simple questions had for us. It gave us clear direction in our day-to-day activities, which can sometimes be lost in the bigger picture. We learned that clarity give you something to fight for and it makes saying NO to some things a lot easier.

2 – Students love vision.
When I arrived at NCSU in 2008 our ministry makeup leaned heavily towards upperclassmen, mostly juniors and a few seniors. We picked up a few underclassmen that year, but not many. If we didn’t find more underclassman the next year, we would be in a mess.

That being so, this year we cast a vision for the upperclassmen to reach out to younger students and embrace them. We helped them see that this is their year to train, disciple and mentor the students that will lead the ministry over the next few years. We cast the vision and they stepped into it!

The greatest example of this was found in our praise band. We graduated 4 students this May that played a major part in our weekly praise and worship. Knowing that day was coming, they made the effort to find underclassmen with the gift of music and get them involved. Over the last year, they trained, encouraged and mentored their ‘replacements’ and I have no worries that we will continue to have excellent music each week! Praise God!!

3 – Strengths-Based Leadership.
Around Christmas I read the book Strengths Finder 2.0. The author spent a chapter or so discussing the idea that our American education system is flawed because it encourages students to spend the most time studying in the areas where they are weak. I found that to be true in my own life, as I always excelled in math and science, yet spent most of my time studying english and history, in which I earned average grades. What if had spent more time studying what I was actually good at? What an interesting idea!

We carry that same mindset into the rest of our lives, including how we lead the organizations we are a part of. Recognizing this, we’ve said that we will be a strengths based ministry. If we have four student leaders who are passionate and gifted towards making great social events, then we will have AWESOME social events. However, if no-one is passionate about intramurals, then we will ‘let it go,’ in hopes that in the future we will have someone step up and take it over. It’s tough watching some of the ‘old faithful’ parts of our ministry go, but the passion for the things are doing is contagious!

We also adapted this kind of thinking into our ‘big picture’ thinking. When looking at the strengths of our ministry vs. those of other campus ministries on campus we recognize our strengths and our weaknesses. For example, Campus Crusade’s weekly meeting on campus attracts between 800-1000 students every week! They bring in the best speakers from around the Triangle and have around 5 praise bands in rotation. We can’t compete with that. However, we’ve had plenty of students ‘convert’ to CCF because we have a family atmosphere and they desire to have a one-to-one discipleship relationship!

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