After years of guiding mentors and churches through the process of launching Radical Mentoring groups, I feel like I’ve seen it all.
I’ve seen Radical Mentoring work in churches of all shapes and sizes. I’ve seen it work with men and with women. I’ve seen it work outside the church, both in the marketplace and with “independent mentors” who just want to help the next generation grow.
This tells me that Radical Mentoring can work in just about any context. But that doesn’t mean it’s foolproof, so here are my top five things to think about when launching Radical Mentoring. Consider these lessons from the front row. I hope they will help as you work towards launching what I know can be a transformative experience for all involved.
- Engage With the RM Team (and Community): Resist the temptation to figure this out alone. I can say without hesitation that the more you engage with us, the greater chance your mentoring group succeeds and the greater impact you can have on the lives of your mentees. Why? Because we’ve been doing this a long time.
We know the pitfalls and the “secret sauce” that makes this work and makes it stick. And I don’t say this selfishly; just like our resources, our coaching and guidance are free of charge. We believe in the transformative power of relational mentoring and want to see you and your church benefit.
When you engage with us, you will also have the opportunity to interact with other mentors who have valuable wisdom and experience to share. We are truly all in this together!
- Carefully Select Your Mentors: The right mentor(s) makes all the difference. When thinking about who would make a good mentor, ask yourself, “If I had a 30-year-old son, who would I want to mentor him?”
You’re looking for someone who will love and serve their mentees but will also challenge them and hold them to a high standard. You want someone who will resist the urge to lecture or teach but instead listen and ask good questions. It should be someone willing to be vulnerable and share their story, so others can learn from it.
Those are your best mentors. This process starts with them, so choose wisely
- Start Slow and Start Small: It may seem counterintuitive, but there is tremendous benefit to being a little picky in this process, especially as you approach your first season.
I understand the urge to go big when you think you’ve found something that can have a meaningful impact on your people. But I’ve seen churches try to speed up the process or make it a bigger launch than they are ready for, and it can easily backfire, leading to watered-down groups and mixed results
If you want to launch four groups but only have two excellent mentors (see point #2), that’s okay. Start with two groups and take your time identifying or developing your next two mentors. Mentoring isn’t fast food; it’s Texas barbecue! Give it time to develop, and you will not be disappointed in the results.
- Train Your Mentors: If you’ve picked the right mentors, you’re off to a great start. Their life story and experience serve as the basis of their mentor training. That said, there are a few important things they need to know to feel comfortable and prepared walking into the First Meeting.
At a minimum, we strongly recommend you walk through our two training sessions with your mentors. These are focused on helping mentors understand how a mentoring meeting should flow and how to tell their full faith story.
Beyond that, you’d be silly not to encourage them to watch the videos and read the articles in our Mentor Training course. After all that, these mentors will be set up for success and ready to nail their role as “Radical Mentor” and fully engage with their mentees throughout the season.
- Be Intentional About Mentee Selection: The mentees who get the most out of Radical Mentoring are the ones who are hungry to grow. Resist the urge to mass market this, especially in the early seasons. Instead, I recommend a “shoulder tap” invite focused on identifying people ready for a “next step” in their faith.
Send them a letter or video email (from the church leadership if possible), saying, “We’ve identified you as a potential leader at our church.” Invite them to apply and be upfront about the covenant and standards required. From those applications, form your groups. Most church programs are first-come, first-serve, which isn’t bad, but handpicking who you invite and having them apply ensures you’re getting people who are ready to grow and communicating the importance of what they’re walking into.
The last thought I’ll leave you is to keep it simple. Don’t try to do too much, especially in your first season. Take my tips, follow the recipe, adjust the “seasoning” as needed to fit your culture, and reach out if you have any questions.
Each mentoring season, your process will get better, and your mentors will get better. I’ve seen it repeatedly; when mentors follow the recipe and create the right environment, God shows up, and lives are transformed. It is why we do what we do.
As your mentoring guide, it’d be my pleasure to talk through your best next steps and guide you through this process. And even if you think you have a handle on it, I’d still love to connect to encourage you and cheer you on.
Thanks for being in this with us!
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