In our first gathering with our future squad leaders, we did a few key exercises to help them better understand why we decided to implement the squads strategy. Here are those exercises:
First, we asked the leaders to take 5 minutes to write down the names of all the students they knew in our youth group. Correct spelling, last names, etc. did not matter; we just wanted them to see how many students they could list. The longest list made had 37 people on it. We had about 150 students who considered themselves to be part of our youth group.
Next, if possible, call out the names of some students who actively attend but you think tend to go unnoticed or unknown by the students who are in leadership training. Chances are some of the students that are around all the time can go unknown by some or all of the key leadership students in the youth group. This problem is the exact reason why we started the squad strategy and it also helped us to get buy-in from students who would become our squad leaders.
After the reality check of realizing that we have students who go unnoticed, we roll out a plan to address the problem. We begin this process by giving our squad leaders a list of all 150 or so students who claim to be a part of our student ministry. With that list in hand, we ask the leader-in-training to notate how well they know each student on the list by using one of 3 designations.
IDK - I don’t know that student
KK - I kinda know that students
KW - I know that student well
Once they go through the list, chances are they will realize there are a lot of students they do not know. This is another reminder of how important and needed the squads strategy is.
Since we begin training future squad leaders at the beginning of summer, we encourage those leaders in training to begin to get to know the people on their list that they designated as IDK’s. This works great because we have all kinds of summer activities and events where soon to be squad leaders can get to know students that started as IDK’s for them. Getting to know as many students as possible is very beneficial for them and you can remind them that every single student will be drafted on to a squad.
Let your leaders in training know that they can use their youth leader, adult chaperones, and even other students as a way to start putting names to the faces they see around the youth group. After a summer of getting to know as many students as possible, squads can be drafted right as school gets started in August.