Mentoring is a hot topic these days. Access to information, even for repairs and DIY projects, is unprecedented through the world-wide web. A whole new industry emerged over the past decade—online entrepreneurship. It’s spawned a new generation of experts.
A new wave of experts has rippled through the church, as well. New, trendy, cutting edge churches are launched every week, at least it seems so. Notice I said launched, not planted. But something is missing.
The need for mentoring is great in the church, but for more reasons than you might think.
The older generation in churches are a valuable part of the church. They provide stability and commitment, and are often the most consistent and generous givers. But many with gray hair have more to offer than consistent giving and commitment.
They have experience, and that experience is valuable and needed.
Older pastors and leaders can be valuable mentors for young leaders and potential leaders. They are a living resource for the church. And what do young leaders lack? Experience!
Responsibility of the church
Discipleship is more than a buzzword, as is the idea of being missional. I’ve heard many pastors and leaders speak on equipping the church, but I don’t see it happening enough.
Oh sure, Bible colleges, seminaries, and other ministry training options exist, even discipleship curriculum. But the church lacks well-equipped leaders ready to lead the church into the next decade or two.
Equipping does not take place through teaching or training programs. None of those existed for the early church.
What did they have? Leaders who discipled in simple ways. Their goal was to personally transfer their own relationship and experience with Jesus to others (2 Timothy 2:1-2), as Jesus did with His followers.
So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Eph 4:11-13 NIV)
Example was a key element of discipleship and leadership development in the early church (1 Cor 11:1). They were on a mission, the Lord’s mission (Matt 28:19-20).
New wine, new leaders
A healthy physical body requires new cells to replenish and promote continued health. In a healthy church, those new cells are young people. They are potential leaders.
I say potential because they need to be equipped and trained up, as Jesus did with His first followers, and as we see the apostle Paul did with Timothy and others (John 13:15; 2 Tim 1:13).
In a dialog with some religious leaders, Jesus said that new wine needed to be put into new wineskins. In that context, He was speaking of the New Covenant—a new way of relationship with God.
And no one pours new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the skins burst and the wine is spilled out and the skins are destroyed. Instead they put new wine into new wineskins and both are preserved. (Matt 9:17 NET)
Many of us want God to bring revival, a new outpouring and moving of God’s Spirit. But are we ready for it? Not if we aren’t training up Timothy-type leaders and releasing ministry to them.
Many of us want God to bring revival, but are we ready for it?
If you’re a pastor or in a place of pastoral leadership, you need to ask yourself an honest question— Pastor, where’s your Timothy?
What’s a pastor to do?
Personally disciple people— those who have a genuine relationship with the Lord Jesus and those who seek HimGive people opportunities— those who are both faithful and ready to step out in faithProvide further training— for those who show commitment and aptitude for leadershipEncourage and equip all the people— not by yourself, but through those raised up in leadershipBe an example of a servant-leader— Jesus’ is our prime example, as in John 13:1-17Find a Timothy—a son in the faith—to pass the responsibility of ministry on to them