“Spiritual mentoring is an intentional, relational process for helping people grow in Christlikeness by which one person becomes a spiritual guide for one or several others.”
Two Saturdays ago I did a three-hour seminar on spiritual mentoring for a church. I’ve reached a stage in life where I feel the toll of doing a three-hour seminar! But the three hours also energised me for a few reasons.
1. The Goal
The senior pastor and some of his key leaders had come to me and said that they wanted to make mentoring the culture of the church. This was much more than just training some members who were interested in mentoring. Making mentoring the church culture meant two things at least:
a. They wanted their church to be one that was committed to helping her members mature in Christlikeness.
b. They understood that the key way for that to happen was relationally, that members had people who knew them and who walked with them on their journey to becoming more Christlike.
In other words, they were committed to making disciples the Jesus way.
2. Their Speed
What made me aware that they were serious was that they were not in a hurry. They wanted to take whatever time was needed for the mentoring culture to emerge. They were talking about years. This impressed me, in a world where many churches are obsessed with speed and size — how many disciples can we produce and how quickly. Often when church success stories are mentioned, they highlight how quickly a church grew — “the church grew big quickly”. You can’t do discipleship that way. Jesus invested in 12 disciples, focusing more on three of them, for three years in the context of a deep relationship. There are no short cuts in disciple-making.
3. A Divine Mandate
They had embarked on this journey because the Lord had spoken to them. They had been praying and discussing what they should do long before I entered the picture. They already had their leadership mentoring plans all laid out. My job was to teach and train them to do what they had already decided to do because they had heard from God. I did not need to convince them of the need to do mentoring. They were already convinced.
4. A Teachable Spirit
The pastor and his pastoral team were experienced pastors. The lay leaders were mature Christians who had been involved in ministry for a long time. Yet I saw a teachable spirit in them as I presented the material. (I am the boring speaker with no power points.) They were engaged, asked good questions, and at the end of the seminar voiced that they really found the material useful. Such responses lift the heart of the speaker.
5. The Carry Through
Often, I go to a church, give a talk, and that’s the end of it. I have no idea to what degree folks put into practice what they heard. But this church has a long-term plan. I have met the mentoring initiative committee once since the seminar. Another meeting is planned before they embark on a leadership-mentoring programme.
As I get older I find that my energy levels are not the same. I need more time to rest and bounce back from ministry. But I am excited and delighted to be a part of this church’s journey. In a world and, to a large extent, the Church which is cursed with superficiality, here is a church wanting to be all that God wants her to be. Yes, I was tired after the three hours. But also very much alive.