During my recent sabbatical research trip, I discovered several interesting things about healthy, growing churches. One interesting fact I discovered was just how important mentoring is in a number of these churches. Some would argue that mentoring is for pastors who have large staffs. I have discovered that not only is mentoring found in churches with smaller staff sizes, but also mentoring is taking place in churches with a single, bi-vocational pastor. In fact, mentoring may be more important for pastors who serve in churches with an all-volunteer staff than in larger-staffed churches.
Mentoring has some common traits with discipleship, but is not quite the same. In general, mentoring can be used outside of discipleship (i.e. mentoring in business or academia). The way that I am defining mentoring in healthy, growing churches is “discipleship which is focused on developing Christ followers in particular leadership abilities within the local church.” Pastors who mentor church members to step up in leadership/service are able to maximize the effectiveness of the church and accomplish the Ephesians 4:12 aspect of their ministry.
I recently spoke with Steven Greene, former pastor of Central Baptist Church in Lawrenceville, GA. I was impressed with his mentoring approach and am sharing it with you here. This approach is simply called Two, Two, Two Mentoring. This mentoring approach requires a one-year commitment between the pastor and the protégé.
Two, Two, Two Mentoring requires the protégé to engage a minimum of six hours each week devoted to the mentoring process. This includes two hours for direct discipleship with a designated leader, two hours for self-study beyond personal devotions and Bible study, and two hours engaged in outreach/evangelism away from the church.
Step One: Meet with a Leader
The first step is to meet with a designated leader for two hours each week. The designated leader is often the pastor, but it doesn’t necessarily need to be the pastor. If the protégé is called to youth ministry or worship leadership, and a better leader within the church is available, the protégé should meet with that leader. This may be a staff minister, or it could be a volunteer. The key ingredient is that the mentor has strengths in the area of ministry the protégé seeks to develop.
Step Two: Self-Study
The second step is for the protégé to devote two hours of self-study each week. Since the protégé is being mentored for leadership, we will assume that he/she is already committed to personal devotion (quiet time) and personal Bible study. The two hours of self-study is meant to be specific to the ministry area. For instance, the protégé could spend that time working through pastoral ministry books, leadership books, revitalization or church planting books, and so on. Personally, I like to reflect on the material covered in each chapter of a book as I am reading. I ask myself “What can I take from this and apply to my ministry?” or “Based on this chapter, how do I need to change my ministry practice to better serve Christ?”
Step Three: Outreach and Evangelism
The third step is for the protégé to devote at least two hours each week engaged in outreach/evangelism away from the church. This step is essential for training leaders to serve in healthy, growing churches. If you do not teach your protégé to be a Great Commission leader, you are likely to never see the Great Commission accomplished in your ministry. Guide your protégé to use his/her gifts in the community. This could be leading worship in a nursing home, working with teens at the local high school FCA group, or serving as a volunteer chaplain with the local police. There are many ways to engage the community with the Gospel. Find the best approach for your community and your protégé.
Whatever approach to mentoring you take, make sure you spend plenty of time praying together, studying the Bible, and sharing the Gospel. Let your protégé see you serve faithfully. The visual demonstration will teach more than a lecture or discussion will. I will also add, be open to learning from your protégé. God teaches us through our relationships if we are willing to learn.
Jeff Farmer, PhD, serves as professor of church ministry and evangelism and he is the associate director of the Caskey Center. He oversees the research efforts of the Caskey Center and consults with smaller membership churches.