Mentoring Ideas | Helping Others Thrive
Common Questions about Mentoring
by Dr. Linda Phillips-Jones

Pair Mentoring in churches and parachurch settings is still quite new. If you have questions about it, you’re not alone! The following are some of the questions we recently received at Faith-Centered Mentoring and More (FCMM).

1. Why add mentoring to a church (or parachurch organization)?

One of the most important purposes of the greater Church is not only to lead people to Christ but to help them grow to be like Christ. Church and parachurch classes, written material, and “programs” can only do so much to make this transformation happen. Somehow, the Church must find ways to help people develop into all God wants them to be. Mentoring based on Christ’s model and done properly is a process (not a program) that can help each and every person develop and mature and also help others do the same. It’s not expensive, it’s relatively simple, it works, and people enjoy doing it.

2. How does mentoring differ from discipling or coaching?

If you define discipling the way Jesus did it on earth, i.e., intentionally helping people grow in all areas of their lives (not just the spiritual) through committed relationships, discipling and mentoring are the same. FCMM calls Christ-Centered Mentoring “discipling with a capital D.” Unfortunately, discipling can end up narrow and perfunctory, with a pair studying and discussing a book or Bible lessons, and little in-depth personal sharing and accountability occurs.

Mentoring is a process that helps individuals develop in several personal areas with a long-term perspective in mind. Coaching is providing specific feedback on particular skills for the here and now. Mentors can certainly coach mentees on skill performance. However, effective mentors don’t stop at this; they help their mentees step back, dream, and look at the larger picture. Further, mentors almost always share from their own lives and experiences. Coaches generally keep such sharing to a minimum. Coaches are usually paid for their services; mentors are volunteers.

3. Can’t we just let people do mentoring on their own?

Mentoring of various kinds and levels of quality will go on regardless of what we do. Unfortunately, some so-called mentoring is worse than no mentoring at all. In addition, many individuals don’t know how mentoring works, so they fall between the cracks and never have a chance to experience mentoring relationships. FCMM has discovered that giving people a process and skills helps them do mentoring well, and this makes them want to do it even more. Sometimes, an additional step of helping mentors and mentees get matched prevents shy and hesitant individuals from being left out.


4. Who are the mentors?

Mentors can literally be anyone in the organization or outside of it: pastors, assistant pastors, administrative assistants, lay leaders, maintenance staff, congregants, employees, new moms, grandparents, older teenagers, business people in the community, etc. Anyone who has a skill, an area of knowledge, or an admirable character trait or attitude is “qualified” to help others develop this.

5. Who do the mentors help?

We call those being mentored “mentees.” Others call them proteges, associates, mentorees, and other words. These are the people who want assistance from mentors in order to grow. Anyone in the organization can be a mentee.

6. What’s involved in mentoring relationships?

Relationships can vary widely. Some are very formal with a great deal of structure and meetings every week. Others meet less often and yet still have considerable structure such as written goals and success measures. Still others are quite informal. Some best practices for an effective relationship include the following: specific purpose for the relationship; clear expectations about such things as schedule, contact times, and appropriate topics; one or more mentee development goals; strict confidentiality; permission to give each other frank feedback; mentee’s’ learning to lead and manage the relationship; progress checks; and an “ending” when the relationship either closes down or transitions into another form such as friendship or more informal mentoring.

7. What’s involved in mentoring programs/initiatives?

FCMM discourages the word and concept of “program.” A program implies a set of specific, organized activities that may or may not last over the long haul. The word “initiative” implies a new movement, way of doing things, or “culture shift” that cuts across programs, departments, and groups of people. At its best, a Christ-centered mentoring initiative teaches and rewards individuals to think and act like mentors and mentees in every situation. Everyone gives and receives mentoring of various kinds and degrees as an ongoing part of their lives. Having said that, good initiatives still require champions, learning, evaluations, and other intentional steps in order to build and sustain momentum.

We hope these questions and answers help you in your planning. If you have other questions or want more details on these, don’t hesitate to email us ( or phone us at 530.268.3131. For more ideas on mentoring products and services, check What We Offer.

CCC/Faith-Centered Mentoring and More
Christian Mentoring and Life Skills Resources
13560 Mesa Drive, Building B, Grass Valley, CA 95949 USA
Phone 530.268.3131 • Fax 530.268.3520 • E-mail
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