I recently spent a weekend in Inwood, IA—a small town of approximately 900 people! I had the joy of leading many youth workers through a mini-version of Youth Unlimited’s Compass 21 ministry. The goal, with the help of their Classis Ministry Consultant Kandace Brands, was to have a one day seminar where each of the 10 churches represented would walk away with one action-oriented goal. The day turned out to be a huge success.
Each church shared stories, worked on goals and visions, shared concerns and prayer request with the 50+ youth workers present that day but there is one church that stands out to me—Pipestone CRC from Pipestone, MN. There were two committed and passionate youth workers who came for this one day training to help cast vision for their youth ministry.
As time went on, as they began to open up and share about their ministry, it became known to everyone that they only have two people attending their youth group for the coming year. Two leaders—two youth! There are a number of reasons why this is but that’s not important right now. What is important is the value these two men placed on having these two people committed to youth for the 2010/2011 year. It was a struggle for them to set goals and vision for a year when there is only two people coming but they did. At the end of the day, the big word for them was MENTORSHIP. How cool is that—mentorship!
If we look into the ministry of Jesus we realize this is how He began His ministry. He chose 12 people to bring into His inner circle! He did not start with hundreds, sixty or twenty but twelve. These select few walked with Him, ate with Him, relaxed with Him, had intimate conversations with Him and the list goes on. Jesus poured His energy into these 12 people.
These two men from Pipestone CRC have a unique opportunity to mentor two people this year. But their situation might be unique. Your youth group might have more youth – perhaps 20 on a regular basis or 60 or even more. Can you, as a youth pastor, truly be effective in ministry if you try to mentor all the youth in your ministry? It’s a question that needs to be asked. The answer might be a harsh realization of your ministry approach. If I were to answer this question I would say it’s impossible.
Jesus chose only 12 what makes you think you can mentor more?
As you work through the first few weeks of ministry spend time on your knees in prayer asking God to reveal to you who you should take under your wing and mentor. Perhaps it’s a youth on the fringe, perhaps it’s your troublemaker or the quiet person in the group. Maybe it will be all three—that’s between you and God. But be sensitive and go on HIS LEADING!
Invest in the ones you mentor! Make Deut. 6:4-9 a regular practice.
Talk to your many volunteer leaders and have them go through the same process of seeking God for whom they should mentor! Have your volunteers spend intentional time with the ones God placed on their hearts. Before you know it, each youth in your group—regardless of size, will be in a mentoring relationship with an adult.
As a youth worker, this may be difficult because you were hired to minister (Shepherd) all the youth not just the select few. True, but the keep in mind, a youth pastor should always be working at equipping the people of the church to do the work of the church. Is not providing each youth in your group with a mentor equipping the people of the church to do the work? You will still have influence over each youth but you can’t have all the youth in your inner circle. You need to empower your youth volunteers and guide them to mentor youth along with you. That’s effective ministry!
Mentorship—Jesus chose 12 people to be in His inner circle. Who will be in your inner circle? Who will be in your dedicated volunteer’s inner circle?
Get down on your knees and start seeking God for His divine leading!