My name is Erin Bruegger. I currently live in Dartmouth, NS and I serve at Stevens Road Baptist Church as the Associate Pastor of Family Ministry.  One area that I’ve really appreciated in my current role is the opportunity to mentor summer students and see how much they grow in their leadership and spiritual life over a matter of months.  The most exciting aspect is seeing students discover or deepening their call to ministry. 

Over the last 6 years I have realized that I have a bigger role in the life of a student or summer staff person. Supervising needs to include mentoring. It needs to more than giving them tasks to complete and stick them in front of kids and youth to do ministry like Vacation Bible School and youth events. 

So what did I do to shift from supervising to a blend of mentoring and supervising? I added 4 practices that would help our students grow spiritually and as leaders. 

1.     Staff Book Club

·      Every summer I let students know that we will read a book as a staff, including the lead pastor. Students choose from a leadership or spiritual formation book. We pick a book that has 8-10 chapters, reading 1 chapter a week. During staff meeting we take the first 15 minutes or so to talk about what we read. We always start by asking, “What stood out to you in the chapter?” This always leads to good conversation and reflection.

2.     One on One’s

·      I get together with each student every other week for a one on one. This is really a check in. An opportunity to see how they are doing and where we can focus on areas of leadership through constructive feedback.

3.     Spiritual Practice 

·      Every week we carve out 1 hour to practice a spiritual discipline together. We use the Spiritual Disciplines Handbook and each student receives their own copy.  We take about 10-15 min to talk about the discipline. Then we all go on our own to practice that discipline. They are not allowed to do this in their office as that is where they “do” work and the idea is to “be” rather then in “do” mode. 

4.     Exit Interview

·      The exit interview is an evaluation that helps to see how the student grew, where they think God worked through them, and to help with future planning. I know the first three elements are working and I tweaked them because of completing an exit interview with them.

 Do you need to incorporate them all at once? This was a gradual build for me. Begin by choosing one or two practices to incorporate this summer. Be sure to evaluate how it went. Maybe you discover that leading others in spiritual practices is not your gifting. Find someone in your church and see if they can lead your students and your staff. Maybe you choose one to focus on this summer but you do it every other week. If all goes well incorporate another one the following summer or the next time you supervise students. 

Like with a lot of other things we try to fit in please be sure it fits your rhythm and context. If you have questions or want to chat more feel free to get in touch, because I could write a blog post on each one of these elements and why they have work so well for our students, staff, and even the church! 


Suggested Books:

  • Spiritual Disciplines Handbook by Adele Ahlberg Calhoun

  • Liturgy of the Ordinary: Practices for the everyday by Tish Harrison Warren 

  • Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership by Ruth Haley Barton

  • Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero