Four Steps to Kick Start Mentoring
Very few people today come to know Christ on their own—it usually happens in relationship. Maybe it was a parent, friend, youth leader, camp counselor, or a combination of several people who helped you understand who God is and how to grow in him. Our students have that same need for relationship, and mentoring provides a great and effective way to meet that need.
Let’s talk four specific steps to kick starting successful and transformational mentoring relationships in your ministry:
“Any student can benefit from a mentoring relationship”
1. Pair the right student with the right mentor.
Any student can benefit from a mentoring relationship. Personally, I begin with prayer, and I ask the Lord to reveal specific students who are eager to grow, open to challenge, and willing to set aside time to meet with a mentor. Once I know that a student is interested in a mentoring relationship, it becomes a matter of pairing them with a mentor they are likely to connect with and ensuring that both the student’s and the mentor’s schedules allow for time to meet together.
2. Get parental permission.
Many parents already understand the concept of mentoring and believe in the process, but we should never assume that any parent is completely on board. Some parents will likely have questions about what mentoring entails or why mentoring is valuable for their child, both which should be clearly addressed in our communication with parents. In my ministry we have a mentoring permission form that requires a parent signature. It defines mentoring, discusses its benefits, and lists practical details about how mentoring will take place. Partnering with parents allows a mentoring relationship to flourish.
3. Build the relationship.
It’s important that mentors and mentees get to know one another. Mentors should be quick to ask questions about school, friends, family, sports, hobbies, interests, and general likes/dislikes. I also encourage mentors and mentees to share their faith stories with each other because this exchange allows a mentor to gauge where a student is in their walk, and it allows the student to learn more about their mentor. In addition to regular meetings, mentors should invite students to join in their everyday activities. Grocery shopping, going to the gym, or serving together outside of church are great opportunities to build and deepen a mentoring relationship.
4. Set clear expectations.
Every mentoring relationship needs a clear “why”, “when”, and “where.” I tell mentors and mentees to create a list of goals of what they want to get out of their time together. Then I suggest they clarify where and how often they’ll meet. I’ve found it to be helpful to have a consistent place to meet. Public places such as coffee shops, restaurants, or even parks offer built-in accountability and a change from being at the church.
Although mentoring is time consuming, it’s well worth the investment. I’ve had the privilege of mentoring hundreds of students during my time in ministry. Many of those relationships are still strong today, and those former students still allow me to speak into their lives and continue the process of discipleship. Some of my former students are now mentoring others for the Lord, and it’s been amazing to watch that multiplication process take place. Jesus gave us a great model of discipleship to follow—let’s take advantage of it and use mentoring to help build Christ’s kingdom on earth.
This blogpost was originally published on the Youth Specialties Blog
About the Author
Frank Newburn is a husband and father of three. He has been the youth director for Wesley United Methodist Church in Bloomington, Illinois since 2006. Before that Frank worked for LeaderTreks as a Leadership Specialist and Trip Leader. His ministry focuses include mentoring and discipleship, student leadership, and missions. He has over 25 years of youth… Read More