For the second time, we held a “Radical Mentoring Tribe Conversation” with many of our active mentors and church leaders. We’re planning to continue to host these every other Thursday while we’re in some stage of lockdown, and after that, we may move to a monthly schedule because this community time of discussion and conversation is incredibly valuable to our team and hopefully to you as well.
This time around, we were joined by Aaron Born and Javon Legons, who are pastors at Victory Church in Norcross, GA. Aaron and Javon spearheaded Victory’s recent mentoring launch. Their mentoring groups were able to have one meeting before we began to shelter-in-places, so they share with us how their launch went and also how they’ve had to adapt to our current situation.
Below is a replay of the conversation as well as some key takeaways and points of interest.
Aaron Born & Javon Legons – Story of Mentoring at Victory Church
- Tried to pioneer their own program, which was successful in some ways, but missing a lot – Radical Mentoring helped fill in the gaps.
- As a church, Victory was running off the steam of the past 10-15 years of discipleship but didn’t have the next generation of leaders – mentoring provided a role for the older generation to be an active part in building up new leaders.
- Collaboration between Aaron, representing Men’s Ministry, and Javon, representing Small Groups, was a key selling point for getting buy-in from the executive team as well as founding Senior Pastor and new incoming Senior Pastor – also allowed them to double their networks of potential mentors and leaders.
- Launched 8 groups with 50 mentees, they were only able to have one meeting before having to shelter-in-place.
- Victory was already in the process of structurally moving many elements of their small groups online. This made it easier to transition Radical Mentoring groups online since they’d already taken time to figure out onboarding, what worked and what didn’t, what aspects weren’t replicable online, etc.
- To recruiting mentees, they had pastors and respected lay leaders nominate potential applicants, who they then vetted – for their initial launch, they mostly choose men who were already leading and serving somewhere, the idea behind this was to work out some of the bugs of a new program while raising the level of leadership of their current leaders.
- Leaned into the “invite-only” aspect of Radical Mentoring, which creates a sense of honor for the men invited – they left 60-second voicemails for each nominee letting them know to expect an email the next day inviting them to fill out an application, which created a sense of anticipation and excitement for the men.
- They gave nominees a 72-hour deadline to apply, and out of 200 nominees, they received around 100 applications and drafted 50 men to be a part of the first launch – believing that creating this kind of exclusivity and requirement communicates value and importance
- For the men who weren’t accepted this round, Aaron and Javon reached out to them directly, lovingly letting them know that the leaders prayed hard about who to pick and while they weren’t selected this time, they’d stay on the list for next time.
- They combined Kickoff and Story Retreat, bringing the whole group to an onsite location for an overnight retreat to make it a shared communal experience. Starting with a brief keynote speaker over dinner, they then broke into their first meetings for intros and mentor stories. Then the next day, they came together for shared breakfast and devotional, before breaking into groups again so each mentee could share their story.
Mentee Reunion at Commencement/Launch
- Both Engedi Church in Holland, MI, and Dunwoody United Methodist Church in Dunwoody, GA close out their seasons with a reunion, bringing current graduates together with previous ones. This reunion connects all their groups together and reminds past mentees about their experience.
- They also invite the next round of mentees, or future potential mentees, allowing them to begin building community, ask questions, and get a sense of the program.
Launching/Leading Groups During Social Distancing
- If you’re having to launch groups online during this season, one option is to break the first meeting into two parts. Hold Meeting 1-A online to cast vision, do intros, give a little homework (read Bo’s Café), but hold off on Meeting 1-B where the mentor shares his story until able to meet in person
- Some groups are meeting every other week for 1.5 hours, as opposed to normal monthly 3-hour meetings. Others are seeing their groups stay attentive and engaged for the full 3 hours online, although including more breaks is encouraged – do what works for you as the mentor and your group, in this season it’s ok to be a little flexible with format.
- Hosting “mentor huddles” virtually can be helpful to connect your mentors, help them manage expectations, and model virtual meetings and crisis leadership.
- Continue to stay in frequent communication with your mentees – one idea is to record and send daily (or weekly or semi-weekly) videos of you sending some encouragement to them, could be reading Scripture or a devo, or just a word from your heart.
- Model for your guys “how to serve” and get them doing it – one group started putting together and dropping off breakfast baskets of goodies to help moms of young kids in their community.
- If you haven’t launched, but are about to, it’s ok to push it off until things have settled and you feel you can confidently move forward – many agree holding the Story Retreat in person is crucial and for some, waiting and launching in a couple of months may be the only way to make that happen.
- If you’re about to commence, consider inserting extra topics and hosting another regular meeting or two and wait until you can commence in person, so you don’t miss the power of that experience.
Mentor Selection – What to Look For
- Men who have a natural sense of humility – a willingness to connect with people and listen not just be a “sage.”
- If you want to vet a potential mentor that you don’t know very well, invite them to mentor someone one-on-one mentor and watch how it goes.
- Mentors need to be willing and committed to model vulnerability and transparency – it takes a man who is confident in his identity in Christ to share the shames of his past, with the goal of pointing men towards Jesus’ redemption.
- It’s important to pick mentors who are willing to serve as a mentor and coach not a teacher – being a “Bible-Ninja” can help you mentor, but it doesn’t automatically make you a good mentor.
- You can have mentors apply, but it’s also important to meet with potential mentors one-on-one, there should be a “shoulder tap” element to it.
- Doing some personality assessments can be a helpful piece of your vetting process – giving you a sense of their giftings, interests, character can help you determine if they will make good mentors as well as who they might be best suited to mentor.
- Allowing potential mentors to apprentice or co-mentor is another good testing ground – works especially great for equipping previous mentees.
- Another critical qualification is a willingness and desire to help younger guys grow – having a heart for that is important.
ACTIVATE THE MEN IN YOUR CHURCH
Small group mentoring can help you engage your men, build your core group of leaders, and transform your church. Our free resources equip you with all the tools you need to launch a sustainable mentoring program.