Dear Pastors and Ministry Leaders,
I’ve been emphasizing our need to work together to take the micro-steps necessary for us to realize our macro-vision of Healthy Church. As Jesus said, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much” (Luke 16:10).
In conversations with GCI leaders around the globe, I’ve been pleased to learn that we are in substantial agreement concerning many of the steps we need to take, including recruiting, equipping and deploying new, younger leaders who will work in team-based ways to help their congregations develop the adaptive leadership and vibrant love, hope and faith venues that are so vital to church health. To help them take these steps, many of our leaders are gathering in cohorts, seeking the Lord’s answers to these two important questions:
- Where will our new, younger leaders come from?
- How can we provide environments where they will grow and flourish?
A plea to pastors
Pastors, I urge all of you to prayerfully seek the Lord’s answers to these questions in your context. As you do, please consider the pressing need we have for pastors to serve as mentors of new, younger leaders. I know you’ve heard this plea before, but perhaps we’ve not adequately defined the type of mentors that are needed. At this time in our journey, GCI needs each pastor to be what I’ll refer to as a sponsor-mentor. This is a mentor who provides their protégés with three essential things: space, resources and relational support. Let’s look at each one.
1. Provide space
Providing “space” for an emerging leader means giving your protégé meaningful team-based (as opposed to solo) opportunities to contribute creatively to ministry within your congregation. Such a space includes the latitude to succeed and to fail, and thus to learn and grow. Learning is greatly enhanced when there is the possibility of failure. Effective sponsor-mentors walk with their protégé through the lessons of disappointment as well the triumphs of success.
2. Provide resources
Sponsor-mentors provide their protégés with the resources they need to learn and grow—things like adequate funding, tools (equipment, meeting space, technical support, etc.), and the man- and woman-power needed to conduct successful events or activities. One of the most crucial resources involves access into the mentor’s network of relationships. Vouching for a younger protégé in a way that connects them with the right people is the ‘electricity’ that ‘lights the bulb.’
3. Provide relational support
Even when adequate space and resources are provided, an emerging leader’s development is stifled when their mentor fails to provide them with abundant relational support. Though effective sponsor-mentors don’t micro-manage, they do make themselves accessible, showing keen interest in the person and ministry projects of their protégé. Relational support is extended by asking good questions that facilitate growth-enhancing dialog and by being their protégé’s number one cheerleader.
Pastors, in asking you to be sponsor-mentors, I’m not asking you to clone yourselves. Instead, I’m asking you to recruit and develop brave, creative new leaders who, following your example, will become mature leaders who work powerfully, in team-based ways, through other people.
Ministry leaders, much of what I’ve said here applies to you as well. The need for new leaders at all levels is great, and the time for each of us to step up as sponsor-mentors is now. Please identify a protégé or two and sponsor and mentor them with all you’ve got!
Asking the Lord for more sponsor-mentors,