Formal or planned mentoring
in the Church is moving slowly, but at least it’s moving
and in the right direction.
By our estimates (based on our secular division’s contacts),
90% of large businesses have some kind of recognized, formal,
or semi-formal mentoring in place. Universities, schools, hospitals,
professional organizations, the military, and even small businesses
have embraced mentoring as a practical, cost-effective, and inspiring
way to prepare their people to mentor and be mentored.
Arranged pairings (and groups) of mentors and mentees are proving
valuable to most participants and to their organizations. Individuals
are gaining new skills, knowledge, attitudes, and perspectives
through their mentoring relationships. While Faith-Centered Mentoring
and More has found no statistics on religious/spiritual makeup
of these mentors and mentees in the marketplace, we guess that
Christians are active members of these relationships and are perhaps
even initiating a large number of them.
Notable Examples in Churches and Parachurch Organizations
Churches, while doing formal discipling and informal mentoring
for centuries, are finally starting mentoring initiatives. Rather
than speculate here on why this is finally happening, Faith-Centered
Mentoring and More is excited about the progress, believing that
churches should be even more active than the marketplace
in utilizing mentoring to help individuals excel.
Gradually the terms “mentor” and “mentoring”
are making their way into churches. Bill Hybels, Senior Pastor
of Willow Creek Community Church and author of Courageous
Leadership, has been a pacesetter by talking about
his own mentors and urging leaders to find and become mentors
themselves. His church has spawned two mentoring programs, one
for in-depth spiritual mentoring led by Sybil Towner, and a second,
broader men’s mentoring program led by Bob Allen.
Others, such as Saddleback Community Church, have tested and
expanded a women’s mentoring program and model developed
by Janet Thompson. Mentoring initiatives are underway at numerous
other churches in the U.S. and Canada. Parachurch organizations
such as Arrow Leadership, the Salvation Army, and The Navigators
are also implementing planned mentoring.
Practical Suggestions for You and Your Setting
If you’re a Christian in the marketplace, consider starting
or joining a mentoring program in your organization. You can find
numerous resources at www.mentoringgroup.com.
God may be nudging you to apply His principles to your relationships
at work and through those relationships let others know what’s
important to you.
If you’re interested in helping your church or parachurch
organization improve the “natural” mentoring that’s
already going on, here are some ideas being used by other Christians.
1. Listen and look carefully for the Holy Spirit’s
prompting in your church/organization and in you. He
may be saying “Go for it”...or perhaps telling
you that the time or you aren’t right.
2. If you feel led to proceed, find one or more “mentoring
champions,” and create an ad hoc mentoring
team. Mentoring won’t succeed without idea 1 and
without a group of enthusiastic, passionate mentoring champions
who are willing to spend several months planning and implementing
a pilot mentoring effort.
3. Interview leaders and followers at every
level, starting with the senior pastor/executive and staff. Talk
to formal and informal leaders about their visions for helping
people develop in this setting. Discuss what’s likely to
happen with current strategies and what might happen with strong
4. Choose an initial target group of mentees.
These could be teens, new leaders, existing staff, seekers, people
seeking career changes, single parents, almost anyone
who wants a Christ-centered approach to personal and/or professional
development. The key is that the group wants mentoring, has time
to devote to it, and is willing to use a Christ-centered approach.
5. Be on the lookout for potential mentors,
people who aren’t necessarily experts but who love the Lord
and who have experiences, knowledge, skills, and time they’re
willing to share. Continue to build your “mentor pool,”
and personally invite people to be a part of it.
6. Put together a draft plan for a mentoring
pilot program/initiative, and seek input on it from many people
including your target mentors and mentees plus others who have
successfully implemented mentoring programs. See this website’s
Archive for suggestions.
7. Hang in there. Pray for patience and perseverance,
for you’ll meet challenges. Just to name a few possibilities:
Many people won’t understand that mentoring can have many
purposes in additional to spiritual development. Some will resist
setting a length for formal relationships and requiring that they
end. You’ll be challenged to create an ongoing supply of
willing mentors without burning out some favorites. Some individuals
may resist attending training. A few mentors and mentees won’t
follow through on their commitments. You and your team will be
amazed at all the details required.
Our team here at Faith-Mentoring and More would love to help
you with your mentoring questions and plans. We answer emails
from all over the world and hope we hear soon from you! For more
ideas on mentoring, see What We Offer.