Something big is coming to 12th Street Baptist Church. It isn’t anything new. In fact, it is very, very old. Moses did it. Elijah did it. Jesus did it best. Paul described and commanded it in Titus 2. It is part of how Christianity spread so quickly in those early days. We believe it will have a drastic and lasting impact here as well. I am talking about mentoring.
Mentoring is a Biblical mandate that the church has largely forgotten over the years. Yet little, if anything, has made such a lasting impact in the Christian world. At TSBC we will be setting aside Sunday evenings for mentoring relationships. This is not to say that it will only happen on Sunday nights, but that is the time we will be setting aside for the next few months alongside children’s and student ministries. I do not have the space here to go into great detail, but I would be very excited to talk to anyone about mentoring, whether you desire to mentor others, be mentored yourself, or just have some questions. We estimate that more than 50 people will have already entered into such relationships by the beginning of summer. Exciting.
There are some questions that come up when talking about mentoring and setting aside specific times to which people invite others or are invited into mentoring relationships. We certainly have no desire to exclude anyone. We do believe, though, that this is important enough (Biblical mandate) to take this initial time to focus on mentoring. To the contrary, part of our goal with this is to bring in more people who have not been involved on Sunday evenings by inviting them into intentional relationships (currently we reach maybe 30 adults with Sunday evening Bible study. We believe mentoring will double, and prayerfully triple that number right away). To the best of our ability, no person who is committed to growing in the Lord on Sunday nights (or any other time for that matter) will be left with nothing to do. We will do all we can by the power of the Holy Spirit to involve everyone.
Let me address some common concerns directly:
· What about people that are not involved in the program that always come on Sunday nights. Is there going to be anything for them or are Sunday nights out for them?
o Until August, this is the only Bible Study directed toward adults, but it is not the only option for adults. Options for adults on Sunday evenings through the summer include:
§ Mentoring others
§ Being mentored
§ Serving in the community
§ Participating (serving with) in Children’s, Student, or Nursery ministries
§ Serving with the Awaken praise team (practice is on Sunday evening & useful for musicians as well as a/v)
o Starting in August there will be missional programming for adults, children’s ministry, and students ministry. We have not yet nailed this down, but are working on it.
· Are other Bible Studies out?
o All Sunday evening Bible studies for adults have been completed and we have no plans of offering others.
o The reason for this is that we want to very heavily focus on mentoring at the beginning in order to develop a culture of mentoring within the church. Most churches fail at mentoring because it is viewed as one of many options (among other reasons) instead of a primary focus of the church. Churches that are successful with mentoring are intentional and focused. We do not want to start something else that will compete for someone’s time until mentoring has a chance to really take hold in the church, but this is temporary.
· Is this the only discipleship program we are going to have?
o Discipleship meaning education in general: Certainly not. We have small groups on Sunday mornings and plan to offer the same small groups on Wednesday evenings and possibly other times for those who are unable to attend a Sunday morning small group because they are serving in another ministry or have other time constraints during that time.
o Discipleship meaning mentoring: Certainly not. This is the only mentoring guide/workbook we are offering at this time because it is useful for getting everyone to a basic level of understanding and life commitment. This is the starting point that we want the whole church move through in the next few years. After that there will be several other wonderful mentoring tools available. We will likely have a resource list ready for you by the time the first wave of people completes Discipleship Essentials.
As always, I am available for further discussion if you would like. With anything out of the norm, there is going to be apprehension. Please, bring those concerns to me so we can work through them and grow together. I believe we all have the same desire here to see people transformed into the image of Jesus Christ!