Staff directors always think about two teams. The team you’re ON. And the team you LEAD. The team I’m on is the South-Central Regional Leadership Team (above). These are the folks who do the same job I do across a 17 state chunk of the U.S. Together with our Regional Director we lead a strategic plan to develop InterVarsity’s mission on campus among Faculty, Graduate and Professional Students. We meet weekly via zoom. We used to meet annually for several days in Nashville – retreating together, working on vision, direction, strategic planning and leadership development. We have to do that now virtually. That’s the team I’m ON. Evidently our boss experienced that feline hi-jacking that’s recently gone viral (yes he did this to himself)!
Here’s the team I LEAD (most of them … missing Jake and George). We work directly on a dozen or so campuses building faculty and student fellowships. Our geography is mildly ridiculous compared to our Region – only Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa and Missouri. This is where my Third Team comes in.
GFM isn’t the only InterVarsity ministry that connects with faculty and students. We’d be crazy not to collaborate with the undergrad side of InterVarsity’s ministry. Undergrad IV is spread all over my four-state territory. The Undergrad entity known as the Central Region overlaps exactly with my four-state Area. The undergrads have a team of Area Directors for Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa and Missouri. You guessed it. I consider them my third team. I don’t supervise them. They don’t report to me. But I’d be crazy to ignore them. Here we are hanging out together last month talking ministry collaboration.
Since coming to this leadership position three years ago, I’ve been pretty intentional about my Third Team. My Third Team is led by Kathy Haug. She and Will Chu, her Associate Regional Director, graciously give me access to their Area Director team. Before the pandemic I used to actually hang out with them if I came to their town. Three people in the screen above actually live in my town! We’re practically family by now. They’re probably getting tired of me to be honest!
Stuff I’ve done with my Third Team in the past couple of years:
- Met with Kathy (RD) twice a year to talk ministry collaboration.
- Starting two years ago began thinking though a combined staff conference for UFM/GFM in our four states.
- One on one conversations with all the undergrad Area Directors (once or twice a year).
- Joined the undergrads for a Prospective Staff Weekend (shared staff recruiting structures).
- Our two teams share a staff member who is matrixed – George Stulac is a GFM staff member in St. Louis AND George is a Spiritual Formation resource for the undergraduate ministry.
- Kathy invites me to her AD meetings once a year – talking strategy and collaboration.
- This past year we pulled off our first combined staff conference with both our teams present. See my post from December.
Since our shared Staff Conference, our teams are working together this spring on growing our faculty ministry. Faculty Meet-ups and Square Inch Stories are a couple of new tools we’re putting on a shared work-bench in our four states moving forward. Stay tuned for the details, but here’s the strategy: team up in our approach to faculty members in particular. The undergrad side is committing to involving faculty members in their planting strategies. In most cases, undergrad student groups need to have a faculty or staff sponsor in order to affiliate a group with a university or college. GFM can help faculty discover and network with each other. New corners on new campuses can be planted. And possibly new faculty Bible studies and fellowships can be established.
What that looks like here in Nebraska is a possible Faculty Meet and Greet event that GFM and undergrad IV work on together. On the GFM side we’ve been trying to grow an Omaha Area Faculty ministry for about a year. Even though we’re on three of the same campuses, GFM isn’t fully aware of faculty members our undergraduates know and partner with. Additionally, GFM has no presence further down I-80, but drive to Lincoln, Grand Island, or Hastings and you’ll find our undergrad team mates planting and growing ministries. The left hand just doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. We can fix that!
This zoom session is as good as it gets. I’m meeting up with the undergrad Regional leaders (Kathy and Will) AND the three of us are dreaming and scheming with Kathy Tuan MacLean – InterVarsity’s National Director of Faculty Ministry. KTM is helping us identify where we have collaborative hot-spots in the coming months. In addition to a Faculty Meet and Greet in Nebraska, we also identified another strategic location – Kansas. GFM has a well developed faculty ministry at Kansas State University. Yet there’s even more potential when you consider Kansas University in Lawrence, a faculty group we have at Emporia State plus what our undergraduate team mates can bring to the table in other places like Kansas City or Wichita. We’re in the early stages of planning a state-wide faculty event for early August.
Pray for our collaborative work in the coming months. There’s still so much uncertainty about when our campuses will recover from the pandemic, but the beauty of virtual events is that they’re much easier and cheaper to pull off. And it looks like virtual events might be here to stay! Thanks for your partnership!