This Year… Discipleship Cohort

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Over the summer I normally try to post a couple things that I learned over the previous school year. If you want see the series as it has developed over lots of years then click here. If you have anything you learned from last year that you would like to tell me about, send it my way smcgever (at) pv dot younglife dot org

In August of this past school year I met with all of the leaders, committee and staff of our YL area and told them we would have two emphases this year: contact work and discipleship. Of course we always do both of these, but I was hoping to dig in deep in some fresh ways.

We have a leadership development pipeline which has really blessed us and provided a lot of fruit. I’ve posted about it here and received a lot of encouraging emails and conversations about each part from you all, thank you! Just last week I spent about an hour on the phone talking to a quality staff person on the West coast about exciting ways they hope to implement and improve some of the ideas.

What we want to add to our development path is a focused mentoring and discipleship program for our leaders. We know if we do this well, it will bless them and it will also trickle down to bless our discieship of our club kids. There is a lot that I could say here, including my view that discipleship and mentoring can actually be, and probably should be, quite different… but I’ll save that for another time.

Though I’ve seen some stints of quality discipleship and mentoring plans, I will be blunt and say that I don’t see many people or ministries consistently hitting it out of the park. Quite the contrary, I normally see one-on-one discipleship as poorly conceived, short-lived, and often disappointing… I see this in pretty much every church and ministry in my community, with myself included on that list. I even put out a plea for help, see here, I had only one response (thank you Dan!). Please overwhelm my inbox with stories of success to the contrary, I would love to see them and learn from them!

I could also say a lot why I think discipleship and mentoring are not strong, because some of the solutions are in these issues, but this post is probably already too long and no one would read it.

Here is what we did. I researched the best discipleship and mentoring plans and ministries I could, and one in particular here in Phoenix did stand out really well, and there were others too. I came up with a plan, recruited a dozen or so mentors, had way more than a dozen leaders in my area request a mentor (had to give a rain check to many), trained the mentors in our plan in August and then got the ball rolling. I placed people together through a scientific process called “Sean harmony”, which basically included me praying a lot and then doing the best I could. All the participants signed a detailed contract of expectations, we had a monthly check-in via a Google doc form and an in-person check-in together in December before an all area leadership meeting.

So where are we at? I’ve heard enough good things to know that we’ve made progress and a lot of good stuff has happened because of it. We are certainly going to continue this program and now have an even bigger waiting list for a mentor. I’ve also heard enough challenges that I know that we don’t have it down to a science quite yet, and never will! We are in the process of debriefing the relationships, the program and our way forward.

One thing I would love to hear is anything that has worked well for you. In particular for adults disciplining and mentoring college aged leaders in a one-on-one environment. We need your help! Send it my way! I promise to share the best of it all with all who read YLHelp.

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PS… If you are looking for summer camp follow-up resources see this post and maybe this too.

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