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tbToday, 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.

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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.

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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.

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I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing one of Tyler Braun’s books before.

He’s a writer I’ve come to respect, admire and listen to, primarily because what he writes resonates strongly with where I find myself and where I believe so many others in this generation do as well.

So when he got in touch with the opportunity to review his new book, How to Find and Thrive With a Mentor, I jumped at the chance. Mentoring is an area of the church which is constantly misunderstood and misinterpreted and yet one which is vitally important.

Tackling the issue straight on, Tyler manages in this short book (it’s only 25 pages) to not only define mentoring, but give a hugely encouraging example from his own story. In an age where so many millennials seem to be struggling to find their place in the world, this book puts forward a strong argument for all of us having a mentor.

As someone who doesn’t have a mentor and who has regularly thought about having one, this book is a significant prompt. More than that, it provides a picture of a church community which is constantly seeking to encourage and equip emerging generations. By passing on wisdom, knowledge and advice, mentors can truly speak powerfully into our lives and encourage us on our walks with God.

Whether you have a mentor, are a mentor or are thinking of having one/becoming one, I encourage you to read this book. It will take you less than an hour, and it might just push you to make a life-changing decision.

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Tyler’s new book is available as an e-book to download here. You can read his blog here and follow him on Twitter.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

This week, I’ve had the privilege of being able to read Why Holiness Matters, the new book by Tyler Braun. Tyler is a 27-year-old pastor from Portland, Oregon, and was good enough to answer a few questions about himself and his book.

Hi Tyler.

Hey James.

Give us a little background on yourself and where you’ve come from to get to where you are today.

I grew up as the oldest child of a pastor and have known the church as a home for my entire life. Over the past 12 years I’ve primarily served within the church through music, and over the past 5 years I’ve been studying at Multnomah Biblical Seminary in pursuit of a Master’s Degree (I graduate this December). I’m from Oregon and love the laid back culture of the Pacific Northwest.

What does your ideal day look like?

I never thought I’d say this but it starts by getting up early and spending at least 30 minutes in prayer, meditation, and reading. From there I enjoy a good bowl of cereal and a cup of coffee while I write for an hour or so. I like to go on a run before my day fully begins. But the ideal day would have to include some golfing in the afternoon, and a movie on the couch in the evening.

Where’s your favourite place in the world?

Of all the places I’ve been to, Crater Lake (in Oregon) and Jackson Hole, Wyoming have always been top on my list of most beautiful places. I also enjoy spending time with my in-laws in Alaska during the winter. I’ve never experienced a slower pace of life than Alaska in the winter, which is perfect for a restful vacation. I guess that isn’t just one place. Hopefully 3 works for you!

Why did you write this book?

So other people could begin to experience the abundant life God designed for us all to live. I don’t believe this is possible without a pursuit of holiness.

If there’s one ‘take-home message’ you want people to carry with them after reading it, what would it be?

Holiness begins through God’s love for each of us, and is lived out as our love for Him changes the way we live.

What’s your hope for the church over the next ten years?

I would love to see my generation, with all their zeal for loving people, to also love their God with the same zeal.

Thanks for answering these questions!

No problem.

*****

The book itself is a brilliant read. It’s just shy of 150 pages which, in my opinion, is a great plus-point. The book doesn’t try to be something it’s not or labour over the same point page after page; instead, it is an easy read, but still packs a punch.

A self-confessed millenial child (someone born between 1980 and 2000), Tyler’s outlook on the world and on people is one that I could easily identify with, even though it’s naturally written from an American perspective. Tyler doesn’t write with any sense of arrogance or superiority; in fact throughout, there is a genuine sense that he is on this journey to pursue holiness as much as the rest of us are, and that makes the book infinitely more accessible.

He’s also refreshingly realistic about the call to holiness, making the point that it’s “not a quick fix”. In a world which offers and demands instant results, the call to a lifelong pursuit of holiness is counter-cultural, but it’s one of the most important challenges we face as Christians.

One of the most important points Braun makes is that holiness is not a new concept, or a new set of rules. Holiness comes out of our relationship with God, and it is that relationship – and the relationships we consequently form with other people – that is central.

Also important is the idea of community, of the pursuit of holiness not being a solo act but one conducted in and amongst groups of believers, with deep relationships. Whilst these may sound like obvious points, they are important ones, and the book makes clear the importance of remembering these crucial foundations.

This book doesn’t answer all the questions you might have about holiness and the challenge of being holy, but then I don’t think that’s what Tyler set out to do.

What he has written is not an instruction manual but a beautiful book which encourages, inspires and challenges the reader to consider what it is to be holy in the 21st century, and why holiness – something which has slipped out of many people’s religious consciences – is so important.

About why holiness matters.

*****

To find out more about Tyler Braun, visit his website or follow him on Twitter. He was hugely helpful in providing information for this review, but didn’t attempt to influence my thoughts on it.