Feedback from the Frontlines

In the last blog Why Mentoring, we looked at a number of good reasons to have mentoring. In this blog we get some feedback from three guys in ministry who are currently being mentored through Church2Church, from three different size churches of whom I asked three questions – it’s all sounding decidedly trinitarian!

Here are the three questions I asked:

  1. What would you say to someone who was asking, ’Why do I need mentoring?’
  2. How has mentoring helped you personally?
  3. How has mentoring helped your ministry?

Let me introduce you to the three pastors, they are in alphabetical order Al Burke, Bryan Kim, and Jamie Newans.

Al Burke, the minister of Yamba Presbyterian Church. Al has been a pastor for about 24 years and Yamba is a growing church moving from Pastor to Program size.
Bryan Kim, the minister of Kempsey, South West Rocks Presbyterian Church. Bryan was ordained this year. Kempsey, South West Rocks Presbyterian Church is a pastor size church in two centres.

 

Jamie Newans, the minister of Coffs Harbour Presbyterian Church. Jamie has been a minister for 20 years. Coffs Harbour Presbyterian Church is a large and growing church.

 

WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO SOMEONE WHO WAS ASKING, ’WHY DO I NEED MENTORING?’

Al

I would encourage every ministry worker to find a mentor. in mentoring you deal with real issues being faced in real time. It isn’t a case of ‘if this comes up’ they are issues, situations, relationships, joys or struggles that you are facing in the present. It isn’t a counselling service but a way of helping you work through exciting and difficult and different situations at the same time. Goals are worked out together with your mentor and reassessed as the year goes on.

Bryan

I think that in today’s age where there just seems to be so many different ideas and different specialisations, we can despair about whether we’ll ever get the help we need. We might think that no one can really help us, because my problems are too specific to me, or my problems are too complex so that what I need to be doing is consulting a whole range of experts in various fields (e.g. biblical studies, theology, worship, counselling, church growth).

However, if we’re true to ourselves, we know that we can’t consult every expert and even if we were to do that that will not give us the confidence we need to lead our congregations ourselves. We’ll be always wondering whether someone else has a better idea, and constantly deferring to others.

What a mentor can do is help us understand that our problems are not that unique, and we don’t need to be an expert at everything. It’s actually possibly that we can learn and get better to meet the challenges ahead of us – and a lot of the resources we need are very near to us. Further, through the mentor’s own confidence in the process of mentoring and their guidance toward the resources we need, we can gain the competence necessary to see that there is a way to move ourselves and our churches forward, and gain the confidence to do it.

Jamie

Ministry can be tough going and the challenges ministry presents are eased when there is someone to help you work through the issues that confront you.

A mentor provides someone with a depth of experience in ministry who you can draw on and you can “debrief with” when facing tough ministry situations.

 

How has mentoring helped you personally? 

Al

Personally, mentoring has helped me in all my relationships. I have been encouraged to hang in with Jesus and assisted with resources and encouragement in ways of doing this. I have been challenged and supported in working through family relationships. Mentoring has also given me a confidence, under God, that there are different ways to do ministry and that is all ok. I am pretty sure I wouldn’t still be in ministry if it wasn’t for being a part of a mentoring relationship.

Bryan

Mentoring has equipped me to be able to see what is going on in the relationship networks that I am in (e.g. family and church), and the ways that I contribute either healthily or unhealthily to that network. Through this, it is helped me to grow up in maturity as a person, and also helped me to help others in growing up as well – so God’s church can all grow up in Christ together. It has also helped to understand the ingredients needed for personal growth (e.g. vision, intention and means), and various ways to diagnose the issues that I’m occurring.

Without mentoring, I can say with confidence that there would have been much less growing up personally. Without it, I would not have been able to reflect on what I experienced with much insight – and consequently, there would have been repeated frustrations – albeit in new settings.

Jamie

I have grown in confidence in my leadership as mentoring has helped me to reflect on my own strengths and weakness to determine what skills I need to develop, especially in over-coming feelings of inadequacy.

Mentoring has provided me with a “sounding-board” when I’m thinking through what is needed to manage a growing church well.

Mentoring has challenged me to keep growing personally in particular by setting goals and then being accountable for them.

 

How has mentoring helped your ministry?

Al

Mentoring has helped my ministry by assisting me to think through and work through things which cropped up right through ministry. It is great to know that I have a guy who understands ministry where I am that I can call on or confide in as the need arises. Not all situations addressed in mentoring are negative or problems some of them are exciting and joyous and it is great to be able to share these and work with someone on them as well. It is great to know that you have someone in your corner who has been around the block who looks out for you and works alongside you.

Bryan

Mentoring has equipped me, stretched me, and basically has made me see what I needed to see in order to flourish both as a leader and as a pastor. For example, through mentoring I’ve been guided and given the confidence I needed to lead the church through a vision setting process (which I am still in, and enjoying!). Through mentoring, I have been able to not only get better at what I am doing (efficiency), but also start to see what I need to be doing to actually move things in the right direction (effectiveness). Without mentoring, I would have much less confidence about whether my ministry is actually on the right track, especially given that ministry effectiveness is so hard to measure.

Mentoring has helped me to be a person of integrity. When I am led by someone else who has reconciled in himself all the different parts of himself – spiritually, intellectually, emotionally and practically (through different habits), that helps me to also live my life the same way. I feel that I am becoming more of the person God has made me, and I live with more integrity in every sphere of life.

Jamie

Mentoring has helped me in meeting the challenges that have come as our church has grown and has helped in my developing and implementing plans to manage that growth.

Our church has gone through a period of significant change and mentoring has enabled me to lead our church well through these changes.

 

Conclusion

Being a pastor of a church today is a great privilege, coming as it does with great responsibilities but in our present context church is facing enormous challenges. Whether a church is declining or growing, we are in new territory culturally and having a conversation partner like a mentor is a way to keep first things first, like your relationship with the Lord, or developing a life of integrity in Christ, or a strategy to grow healthy disciples of Jesus. But it means you can have conversations about the second order things as well. Mentoring is a proven way to help you go the distance and finish in good and Godly shape.

Dave Thurston