To begin the Squad Strategy, you need to identify potential leaders within your student ministry. Here are a few guidelines I recommend when selecting your leaders:
- Should be a student that is entering 9th - 12th grade.
- Should be well thought of by others in the student ministry.
- Should be willing to talk in front of a group of his or her peers.
- Should be actively involved in the student ministry.
- Should show a certain degree of commitment by participating in at least a few training sessions.
The goal is to have 1 leader for every 5 students in your student ministry. This ration will allow you to have a squad of about 10 people with a pair of squad leaders for each squad. (Our first year we had a void of leadership, so we had to begin with 1 leader for every 10 students.) If you can't start with a 1 to 5 ratio, just get as close to that as you can. The lower the ratio, the easier it will be for your leaders to stay connected with the students in their squad.
The key is to clarify with your leaders the expectations from the start, and inform them that with any leadership role comes the expectation of accountability. We let our leaders know what standard we will hold them to, and then we hold them accountable by addressing anything a leader does that might jeopardize his or her image as a Christ following leader.
Putting together an application and having potential leaders fill it out is a great way to get them started in the process.
For us, we also try to reassure our potential squad leaders by letting them know that they don't have to be willing to preach or counsel other students. Here are the expectations we share with them:
- Be actively involved in the student ministry going forward
- Help students feel welcome at EBC as a part of your squad
- Set a good example inside and outside church of what a Christ follower looks like. (You don't have to be perfect, but your reputation shouldn't be a sketchy one.)
- Be willing to put some effort into getting to know the students that you don't know very well
- Be willing to work at your ability to talk scripture and spiritual things with the people in your squad
- Be willing to go through some training
- Get together a few times throughout the year for awesome Squad Leader Only events
Again, make these expectations clear and then hopefully God will lead some of your best students to take on the responsibility of being a squad leader. Once you have your leaders, you are ready to begin training them to be Squad Leaders.