Today, I’m thrilled to have a guest post by Tyler Braun. I first came across Tyler last year when I did a review of his brilliant book Why Holiness Matters.
Tyler is a great guy, and a voice worth listening to in a world where so many people are clamouring for attention. He’s humble, wise and discerning, and I have really valued and learnt a lot from his thoughts on mentoring over the last few months. His post below is about just that – mentoring – and it’ a great read. Over to him – and I’d love to know your thoughts on what he says.
Certainly not all churches are representative of this, but mentoring is quickly the buzz word of choice for churches looking to reach younger generations. Fortune 500 companies are making the news by starting mentoring programs they hope will fulfill the desires their younger employees have for interaction with more experienced members within their organizations.
With the success these moves have made for companies, churches are also starting programs for mentoring. If churches start programs for mentoring they’ll kill the entire concept by trying to force relationships. What I think churches need is not another program, but a shift in mindset. Anyone can create a sign up sheet for those looking for a mentor, but churches should be equipping people with the tools needed in order for mentoring to become a core focus.
In 5 years, your church will have moved on to the next quick fix if you create a mentoring program, but if you instill a mindset of mentoring within a church, in 5 years you’ll have a church full of people who are more connected and shine forth the light of Christ like never before.
First off, it’s important to define what is meant by mentoring, so it’s understood what is being discussed:
Mentoring is inviting someone into an intentional relationship for the sake of personal and spiritual growth.
I have no doubt my call away from creating mentoring programs is discouraging for those who have had in mind to do this very thing. So let’s spend time examining how we can instill a mentoring mindset in a church. Over time this will be more effective than a program anyway.
The Gospel Leads to Mentoring
The lack of understanding about what the Gospel is can be seen all around as the Gospel is truncated to simply mean being saved from sin. Jesus then is Savior, but not King. The focus on grace is simply saving grace. Where is the focus on equipping grace? Where is King Jesus found in a lived out theology? What does God have for us to do with our lives after he saves us? These questions are often ignored.
If the Gospel saves us, and also equips us for the present and the future by infusing God’s power within us, then we can begin to see how we are called to care for others. If mentoring is only a quick fix to reach a generation it will never become sustainable, but connecting mentoring to the core belief of Christian faith means it becomes integral to the outworking of that faith.
Lead the Way
Churches are full of leaders who want their church to build a mentoring mindset but they’d prefer to leave to work for others. If developing a mentoring mindset is something you desire for your church, but you cannot find the time or energy to help lead the way, you need to find something else to focus on then. Without the key staff/volunteers/idea leaders leading the way, mentoring will not develop.
Just as you should never preach a message you haven’t first taught yourself, you should never tell others to do something you are not first willing to do.
Look for the Linchpins
Every church has indispensable people who are the glue of the congregation. They hold everything together by serving, teaching, leading, praying, etc. Churches develop a mentoring mindset because these linchpins put their effort toward it.
Reach out to these indispensable individuals and start having conversations that help get the ball rolling. While it is vital for you to lead by example, you also cannot lead the church toward mentoring on your lonesome. You need others who are passionate about investing in people. Who are the leaders in your church or community that people are drawn to? These linchpins are the people you need on board.
Celebrate What’s Already Happening
Chances are mentoring is already taken place, in various forms, all around you. But often it’s taking place with little to no intentionality or fanfare. Opportunities are wasted because people choose to stop investing their time and energy in them.
You have the opportunity to champion the pockets around you where mentoring is taking place. You have to start somewhere, and celebrating what is working is a great place to start.
Tyler Braun is the author of Why Holiness Matters: We’ve Lost Our Way—But We Can Find it Again. Tyler lives in Oregon with his wife Rose and son Judah. You can find Tyler on Twitter or his blog, www.manofdepravity.com, where he writes about Millennials and finding the significant life we’re all searching for.