Campus Leadership Transition Part 2: Practical Tips

In an earlier post, we talked about the foundations of a successful campus leadership transition, emphasizing solid beliefs and character.  If (and only if) those are in place, these practical tips should help.

The transition itself

  • Plan on making the transition at a time where there’s less academic stress.  One year, we transitioned during a difficult block.  The new leaders were (understandably) overwhelmed and we effectively lost a month.
  • Have a transition meeting with the outgoing and incoming leaders.  Invite others (such as campus staff, believing faculty) who have played an important role in your group.  This is a great time for the outgoing leaders to pass on what they’ve learned (good and bad!).
  • Outgoing leaders should be available to the incoming leaders on an ‘as-needed’ basis.

Becoming a team, becoming friends

  • Leadership teams are not just about ‘getting things done’, but also about relationships.  Invest more time early on to build those relationships, and you’ll reap the dividends in every way.  This will be a process, and that’s OK.
  • Figure out what gifts, talents and passions each new leader brings to the table, and allow each person to focus their efforts there.  It will be more energizing and help the vision go forward.

Discovering God’s vision for this year

  • Commit to being prayerful for your group – together, and, individually.  God’s power behind the ministry is the most important thing.
  • Prayer is also key to determining what God wants to accomplish through you this year.  While certain things (such as outreach) will carry over from year-to-year, the way they are carried out will change greatly depending on the previous team’s strengths/weaknesses, your own team’s composition, and, the needs of your campus.  Campus staff and faculty can help you discern what God is doing, too.
  • Ideally, last year’s leadership will have had some sort of vision for the group.  Start there, and prayerfully discuss how it may need to be adjusted this year.  For example, this year one of our campuses has decided we need to do more outreach.
  • Strive for a balanced ‘ministry portfolio’ – fellowship, growing in discipleship, outreach, mercy ministry, and so on.
  • Outreach is an area that’s often neglected because we’re afraid to bring up faith in a secular context, and, because it requires more planning and effort.  And yet, Christ has called us to love our friends for Him.  Outreach can happen in many ways, some obvious (like an Interfaith forum), some more mundane (handing out coffee and donuts before an exam).  It’s good to do some of each.
  • Sometimes, integrating bible study is neglected, too.  We tend to miss how important God’s Word is, and students often don’t feel competent to connect it with ‘real life.’  At the same time, because the bible is God’s very own words for us, we need to talk about it and study it in community.  Local pastors, study guides, campus staff and faculty can often help here.

Early on

After the transition has happened, these are good things to keep in mind:

  • Get started right away on your key priorities.  Everyone’s busy, but moving forward – even a little – will prevent inertia from setting in, and set the tone for your year together.  Since summer break is coming soon, starting now is important.
  • Reach out to your campus staff and believing faculty.  They can help tremendously, and they know your campus well because they’re there year-to-year.  If they seem unresponsive, don’t give up; gently pursue them and let them know you need whatever involvement they can offer.
  • Consider becoming a CMDA (Christian Medical & Dental Association) member personally, and affiliating (or reaffiliating) your chapter with them.  We can provide you with resources such as materials and missions opportunities, as well as help you connect with other Christians in healthcare as you move on through the training process.

No doubt more can be said, but hopefully this is a good start.  Feel free to leave your own insights and thoughts in the comments section.  Having said that, all that’s left is to congratulate you on your decision to serve, and to wish you God’s grace in this coming year!

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About Bryan Stoudt

On my personal website (bryanstoudt.com), I help Christians follow Jesus in a noisy, broken world. I also have the privilege of helping Philadelphia's healthcare students and professionals do this as Area Director for the Christian Medical & Dental Associations (CMDA). More information at cmdaphiladelphia.org. On a personal note, I'm fortunate to be married to my wonderful wife, Sharon. Together, we have four fantastic children. In my spare time, I enjoy roasting coffee, running, reading and learning foreign languages.
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