The Mentoring Pastor

Here is an excellent challenge about pastoral mentorship from Aaron Rock, Lead Pastor of Southwood Community Church, Windsor, ON.

“Jesus in his living provides us a clear paradigm for our living.” Richard Foster

What did you do with your time over the past seven days? As a leader in your church, how did you use your time? If you’re like most Protestant clergy you spent 33% of your time involved in worship and preaching prep, 19% on pastoral care, 15% doing administration and attending meetings, 13% teaching and training, 6% on community and denominational activities, 7% on prayer and meditation, and 4% on other reading. Those stats come from an organization known as Pulpit and Pew Research on Pastoral Leadership.

These are the activities that our churches anticipate we’ll engage in, and our seminary professors have taught us to do well. Most contribute to the corporate worship life of our churches, or at least to various small groups within our churches that are tied into the overall church. I too, spend my time on these activities.

In my fifteen years of vocational ministry however, I have come to terms with the fact that there is a glaring deficit in my ministry and in the lives of many pastors. We are good at doing big church. We are competent enough to pull off a service or series of services every week, and we are more than able to lead and manage ministry teams, church councils, and cell groups. But how many of us have embraced the ancient pastoral task of one-on-one mentoring? How many of us have people in our lives that we are deliberately discipling?

Mentoring is a biblical paradigm, albeit identified by different names in the relevant scriptural texts. The Bible is replete with principles and examples that invigorate Christians to practice mentoring in the community of faith. To neglect mentoring is to do so at the risk of violating scriptural precept. As Keith Anderson and Randy Reese comment at the beginning of their book on spiritual mentoring, “Christianity is an imitative faith.” People develop best when they see their beliefs lived out in other Christ-followers. The Christian faith encompasses a God-dimension, whereby God initiates and sustains our faith, as well as a human-dimension. We need to see people, in the context of biblical community, modeling this thing called the Christian life that we so value.

The Lord Jesus Christ engaged in ministry that was large-scale in nature, small-group oriented, as well as offering attention to individuals within his small group (John 13:6-10). An exploration of His ministry on earth reveals that Christ ministered to the masses, to clusters, as well as to individuals (Matt. 9:9; 16:16; 18:21). While Jesus primary is known for His ministry to a small cluster of men, His life was marked by an intense interest in imitative faith. At times He addressed the crowds, other times He addressed His inner circle as a group, other times He addressed His disciples in pairs, and still other times He spoke directly into the lives of individual men. Unlike some modern church growth models which solely advocate the supremacy of the congregational church service to the neglect of individual discipleship, Jesus struck a balance with an emphasis on all three of these focal areas.

At the commencement of His ministry Jesus demonstrated the priority of engaging in discipleship by inviting a select group of young men into a disciple-making process. In Matthew 4:18-22, following Jesus’ temptation, He immediately augments His public preaching with the establishment of intimate relationships with Simon Peter and his brother Andrew. In the biblical text, this process included an invitation to come and follow Christ and a promise to make these guys into fishers of men in the course of time. Jesus models the principle of intentionality, in that His offer of relationship was for the clear purpose of initiating these men into Kingdom service. Jesus intentionally made disciples. Do you?

Aaron Rock is Lead Pastor of Southwood Community Church in Windsor, ON. He is married to Susie and is father to five children. He earned his D.Min. from Liberty University and is pursuing an M.Th. in Homiletics from Waterloo Lutheran Seminary.

For more on pastoral mentoring see the excellent session done by Paul Martin titled, “Pastor: Mentor the Young Men” given at the Toronto Pastors Fellowship on September 22, 2008. You can find a PDF of the lecture here or the audio here.

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