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
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
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
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
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org)
or phone us at 530.268.3131. For more ideas on mentoring products
and services, check What We Offer.