If you read this blog you’ve probably discerned I’m fairly intentional and strategic. For years, I have tried to be intentional about my role in making disciples. Right now I have a mentoring group. This is different from the small group I lead. It’s a group of men, typically in a season of life I’ve already lived.
Pastor friend Chris Elrod saw a tweet about this and emailed me some questions about how I do this. They were great questions I think others may have, so I decided to share my responses. My purpose in sharing is to encourage you to be intentional about discipleship in the new year.
How many guys do you directly invest in at one time?
I limit my groups to 12 guys at one time. Often I go looking for 12 and end up with less, but 12 is the maximum I’ve attempted. (Seems there was a good prototype for that number )
How long is the process and what constitutes completion for the participants?
I’ve done anything from a 12 month process to a 9 week process. It really depends on my schedule. We determine in advance what we are going to complete, whether that’s a Bible study, a book, or a curriculum and then back out how long that will take.
How often do you meet with them, the location and for how long (i.e., once a week at Starbucks for one hour)?
Again, I’ve done this a variety of ways. I have learned, however, that getting them to a private location is best, because men aren’t as likely to share intimate details in a public setting. Currently we are meeting at the church office building. I have met in my home. We typically meet for no more than two hours at a time. I first determine how long I feel it will take to cover the material, then depending on my schedule and the schedule of the group, I spread out the meetings over an adequate period of time. That’s why there have been 9 week spans of two hours per week and currently I’m doing a 9 month span of two hours per month.
What format do you use in those meetings?
This is a mentoring group, so mostly these men are coming to learn from me. I don’t do all the talking, but I certainly guide the discussion.
Are there specific books, activities, events or curriculum that you use for developing them?
I have walked men through Bible studies, such as “Experiencing God” (I used that numerous times years ago), or a current popular Christian book. Right now I’m using a 9 part Bible study for men I wrote myself, which walks through 9 critical aspects of a man’s life.
What are the expectations you have for the participants?
I am not very legalistic in anything I do, but I do ask that participants agree in advance to be there if they can and that if this is not a good time in their life, they bow out on the front end.
What are the reward or consequences for them meeting or not meeting those expectations?
Hopefully the reward is they gain insight into someone further down the road and learn from my mistakes and successes. (There are more mistakes it seems. ) I guess the consequence is they have to learn them on their own.
Do you use any kind of accountability forms (covenant, manual, written guide, etc.) with the guys you are developing?
I have in the past and I think it’s a good idea. Some of the Bible studies come with something like this in them. Lately I’ve simply given them my expectations about confidentiality, commitment, etc. and verbally asked them to comply.
How do you go about finding the guys you are going to invest in? Are they recommended to you by other leaders or do they just pop up on your radar by personal observation?
I get inspiration in the fact that Jesus personally recruited His disciples and I personally recruit. I’ve learned that if the pastor hangs out the “ya’ll come” invitation sign that men will come, but they won’t necessarily commit. I put people on a list who have indicated or evidenced a desire to grow in their walk with Christ and then I look for guys I think have great potential. I pray over my list and then make the ask. It’s usually not an obvious list. God seems to lead me to men who may not have been on my radar.
What is the next step for the guys that complete the develop process?
I always ask the guys I’m mentoring to become life-long disciple-makers. I encourage them to begin to invest in others.
Do you take all of your top level staff/pastors/elders through the process before they serve in their role?
Not to this same extent, but some of our staff have gone through this process with me. The elders we typically take through more of a peer coaching time and less of a mentoring time. Some of them can actually mentor me.
Are there other leaders in your church doing the same kind of development program with future leaders or do they all filter through you first?
A couple years ago I encouraged all our full-time staff to consider something such as this. Many of them did. Some have continued the practice.