One of the markers of young adult ministry we talk about often is “connection.” When we say connection, we’re talking primarily about intergenerational ministry—the connection and relationships between young adults and those who have been before them in life and ministry, and generations younger than them who young adults have the chance to influence. Mentoring relationships are one of the best ways for intergenerational ministry to happen. But what actually makes an effective mentoring relationship?
A mentor is someone who:
- Will pray faithfully for the person or people they are mentoring.
- Has a sufficient awareness of Scripture and can provide biblical counsel.
- Is positive and is an encourager.
- Is open to mutual accountability.
- Is willing to commit the time needed to mentor someone effectively.
- Can listen and provide a non-judgmental attitude.
- Is confident in themselves and is willing to establish their life as one to be modeled.
- Is faithfully seeking the Lord as to be able to more effectively encourage others in their own faith.1
In addition to these characteristics, it’s also important that mentoring relationships don’t have to (and often don’t need to) sit within the confines of a formal program. Some of your greatest ministry may not be found in the programs of your church, but rather in your presence in the lives of people. This certainly doesn’t devalue or disqualify the work that God has done or is doing within your church programs. But, you also must not lose sight of all the opportunities for ministry that exist within the everyday lives of people.
We’ve used a “Sherpa” metaphor in leadership articles on our site before when discussing mentor relationships. Sherpas are natives of Nepal who have served as essential partners for the climbers of Mount Everest for nearly a century. They know where the dangerous crevasses lie. They know where to camp on the mountain for the night. They know when the storms are most likely to strike. Although you may not be leading someone to the peak of Mt. Everest, you certainly can be a part of leading them closer to God. And in order to do so, you need to provide them both spiritual and practical mentorship. When you consider both of these matters, some humbling questions arise:
- Where does a 24-year-old young woman turn to learn to cook when she’s never met her mother?
- How does a 29-year-old new dad be a godly father when his was not?
- How does a 22-year-old new believer learn the Bible when he’s never been taught it before?
The reality is that we, the body of Christ, can be the answer to the questions above. While one might look at these things as inconvenience, our churches must look at questions like these as opportunities to connect with this young adult generation.