Mentoring is the glue that held the early church together. If your congregation is falling apart, it’s time to take a look at the power of mentoring.
Jesus mentored his followers. Those followers, in turn, mentored new followers. And so on until the message and the power of the Gospel spread far and wide.
You can’t disciple others without mentoring. Mentoring provides the framework to guide attenders into discipleship, and to advance disciples into apostleship. The question is, Should you mentor like Jesus? Or was his approach too risky?
Take a look at the Gospels. Jesus insisted that his followers master the kind of skills he had. He didn’t settle for mediocre results. When things didn’t go well, he was direct in his feedback. Even if his followers pushed back against it.
Not that Jesus didn’t show love, or offer friendship, or extend grace. He did. Yet, he never sacrificed the mission just to “be nice” or make sure people didn’t leave.
Frankly, most church leaders are reluctant to mentor like Jesus. I get it. After all, the last thing you want to do is drive away the people you are inviting into leadership.
But I’m here to make the case that you can’t afford NOT to mentor like Jesus. If mentoring is what fueled the growth of the early church, it can infuse your congregation with new life as well.
I’m so convinced that effective mentoring is essential to healthy congregations, that it is a key aspect of what we teach in Creating a Culture of Renewal. Effective mentoring allows burnt-out leaders to recognize their strengths, own their fears, and dare to advance from discipleship to apostleship. It also shows them how to grow new leaders with less frustration and better results.From my study of the Gospels, I believe that mentoring like Jesus includes mastering these three skills: holding people accountable, standing for another’s growth, and dealing with pushback. To help you get a picture of what I mean, here are three mentoring wins that church leaders report.
Hold people accountable
LaShawn: “Before Creating a Culture of Renewal (CCR), I was reluctant to hold my people accountable. They’re grown people, I thought. Why don’t they just do what they said they would do? I didn’t ask for clear commitments or by-when dates. I was getting more and more frustrated. Through CCR, I realized that people come to church because they want to grow. But they need help getting there. I’ve learned to set aside my frustration and ask for clear commitments and by-when dates. Then I follow up with them. Now I see that I’m not treating them like children, I’m helping them grow. I’m less frustrated. And more things actually get done at the church.”
Stand for another’s growth
Jamie: “Before CCR, I mentored as if the goal was to get people to like me, and to think I’m a cool guy. It’s all about me, right? But that approach got in the way of my being able to stand for my people. Through CCR I have learned to set aside the fear of how I look to others and to call them to their best. Now when I read the Gospels, I see that Jesus didn’t let things slide so others would love him. Now when I meet with my lay leaders, I keep their growth top of mind. This works much better!”
Dealing with pushback
Lin: “Before CCR, I stayed below the radar so that no one pushed back against me. I dislike conflict. When my leaders reacted negatively to what I said, I took it as a personal reprimand. Like I must be doing something wrong. Through CCR I learned that people push back for different reasons. Sometimes, they’re unsure of themselves. Sometimes, they just don’t understand the process yet. But it’s not really about me. Jesus stood by the disciples until they got it—even Peter. I am trying to do the same for the people I lead—you know, stay the course with them. I don’t have to fold or take it personally.”
How you can mentor like Jesus
Start by choosing one of these three skills to incorporate into your mentoring: holding others accountable, standing for another’s growth, or dealing with pushback. As you practice the skill, study the Gospels to see how Jesus did it. Then pray for his leading to be clear and courageous. After all, the health of the church is at stake.
Not sure what your next step might be? Reach out here for more assistance. I’d love to mentor you through your challenges!
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