This was written for MIN461 Kingdom Theology and Application class with Professor Kintner.
It is my belief that discipleship in the Church should be done by means of one-on-one mentoring. It is the model that Jesus set with his closest disciples. It is also the model that Paul set with Timothy. I think that churches should set up environments where structured one-on-one mentoring discipleship is made easy. This, of course, while it should be facilitated by the pastoral staff, should be done by the congregation working together with one another as the New Testament commands over 50 times, not the pastors themselves. Creating a pyramid of mentoring discipleship with each person mentoring 3-5 more would revolutionize the Church and spur unparalleled spiritual growth throughout the body of Christ.
This type of mentoring discipleship should be done in the context of the local church and spread out from there. It begins with Sunday morning and teaching how Jesus and Paul interacted with their followers. Practical messages with life application from the Scriptures that detail biblical living that later the mentors can review with those they are mentoring. These messages should also focus on how we can help, counsel, admonish, and live with one another in love, so that the body of Christ would be united.
These relationships should focus on personal growth in our love, knowledge, and obedience to Jesus our Lord. They should touch every area of life from finances and friendships, to spiritual growth and salvation. The relationship between mentor and the one being mentored should be one of the deepest relationships that we can have on this planet. Each person should feel that they can express anything to the other. Of course, “older” women should be mentoring the “younger” women and “older” men should be mentoring “younger” men. I say “older” and “younger”, but these terms are relative. Those who are more spiritually developed should mentor those who are less developed. It does no good for an older person who is a spiritual baby to mentor a younger person who has a healthy and vibrant relationship with our Lord. It should be the other way around. Age has nothing to do with it.
The way this would work in our culture of busyness is through personal meetings, phone calls, texts, emails, Skype, and Facetime. We are more connected to our world today than ever before. There is no reason or excuse for why we cannot take 10 minutes to touch base with someone every day or two. As much as is possible for both parties, life needs to be shared. I know that initially, this will be difficult where there is not an existing relationship, but with time and mutual effort, these relationships can become very fruitful. It will take work though. However, if we are serious about spiritual growth in our churches and in ourselves, we will be willing to put forth the effort.
I honestly do not know what a curriculum for this type of mentoring discipleship would look like or if there should be a set curriculum at all. There are some very excellent programs out there. For example, Mens’ Fraternity, Celebrate Recovery, Financial Peace University, and many more for both men and women, addicts, alcoholics, normies, and odd balls. I think that, depending on the individuals, different things will work for different people. For some people, a set curriculum may be better, but for others, simply working things out on their own would work better.
The model that I reflect to when I think of this is the model of the sponsor/sponsee relationship that you find in 12 step programs. I have been in Alcoholics Anonymous for my entire adult life. The relationships that I have developed with both my sponsors and sponsees over the years have been the most enriching of my life, except for maybe my marriage… In these relationships, we have not only kept each other sane and sober, we have also joined lives in the most intimate of ways. We have shared heartaches, troubles, joys, prayers, and tears. I cannot imagine a better way for the Church to interact with one another than to have these type of quality relationships flowing through our fellowship.
The Church and our local churches desperately need to be built on fruitful relationships that produce growth in each individual. I think the mentoring discipleship model is the vehicle by which that can happen.