Each month during a Radical Mentoring season, every mentee meets with another member of the group one-on-one…to get to know the other mentee on an individual level and to provide space for accountability and feedback on that month’s topic and homework. By the end of the mentoring season, every mentee will have been “growth partners” with each person at least once. And hopefully developed a closer relationship with one or two of them.
These Growth Partner relationships are one of the five elements that make up the “content” of a Radical Mentoring group, along with Reading, Scripture Memory, Homework, and Prayer. Of these five, Growth Partners often get the least attention, both in the group and outside. So, what can you, as the mentor, do to emphasize these relationships? Keep reading for a few ideas.
Mark Butler, a mentor in Atlanta, GA, has done a great job of giving prominence to Growth Partners in his mentoring groups. Upfront, Mark and his co-mentor set the expectation that each month the two growth partners should be doing more than meeting once. They should be talking to each other on the phone multiple times, texting regularly…really tracking with each other. And then to reinforce the importance of these relationships, during their mentoring meetings, Mark doesn’t ask each mentee how they’re doing, he asks each growth partner how the past month went for their counterpart. (This could be a separate meeting element or take place during “regrouping” time in the beginning.)
Another mentor, Barb from Holland, MI, puts a different twist on the growth partner relationships. In addition to her full group meeting, Barb divides her mentees into subgroups. And then the subgroups have to meet during the month as well. She assigns a leader for the group, whose job is to determine the meeting agenda. Usually, they talk about something relating to their monthly topic that probably won’t come up in the full group meeting, or they dive into a question that needs more unpacking than the normal meeting allows. Each month, the groups and the leaders rotate, so everyone gets the chance to interact with each other in a smaller setting
We’ve heard from other mentors who encourage their mentees to pair their growth partner meetings with an activity. Instead of just going to get coffee or lunch, the growth partners go bowling or golfing or do a service project together. This typically creates a longer time window than a 45-minute lunch and also allows them to see how the other interacts “in the wild.” One mentor reported how an introverted mentee really came out of his shell while biking (his favorite hobby) with a group member, so much so that each subsequent growth partner requested to go biking as well.
If one of our goals as mentors is to create an environment for authentic relationships to form, it’s imperative that we create opportunities for bonding and connecting. Having everyone tell their story early is an effective way to light this fire, but it has to be continually stoked and encouraged throughout the mentoring season if you really want the relationships in your group to ignite. Growth Partner meetings are an excellent opportunity to lean into the community aspect of your group. Don’t be afraid to get creative. Your mentees will benefit.
Question: What have you done to encourage your group to make the most of their Growth Partner meetings?
Breathe New Life Into Your Discipleship
Small group mentoring can help you engage your people, 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.