When we give presentations or speak at conferences, we like to leave time for Q&A. There are a few questions we usually get asked, including . . . “Where is the Bible in Radical Mentoring?”
I understand and appreciate this question because we are asking men and churches to take part in something that doesn’t look or feel like traditional men’s ministry. And since I know it comes from a good place, I thought it’d beneficial to address it in this month’s “Mentoring Mythbusters.”
First off, we think deep Bible study is great. And if your church has those environments, by no means are we trying to replace them. In fact, because mentoring groups have a defined end and a high level of commitment and transparency, you need to have other options like that available for people to grow.
In churches, many environments are content rich and relationship light or teacher-centric versus facilitation based. Radical Mentoring groups flip that a little bit. While we do have a defined process for groups to follow, having men share their full stories early in the mentoring season creates a foundation for vulnerability and accountability that puts relationship ahead of content.
As I talk with mentors who have just experienced their first Story Retreat, I often hear stories of men who “have never shared this before,” or “didn’t know someone else was dealing with the same issue,” or “feel known more deeply,” even men who have been in Bible studies or small groups for years.
The secret sauce of Radical Mentoring is in the intentionality of the process and the covenant commitment . . . to maintain confidentiality, to embrace community, and to exhibit a high level of vulnerability. Combine that with the wisdom and life experience of a mentor who is willing to pour out his cup and it becomes a powerful process.
But there is a method to our madness. Mentoring groups are focused on application . . . on things to read and do, that when combined with the examined experience of an older, wiser mentor help mentees develop practical wisdom on important topics.
I think it’ll be helpful to look at each element of a mentoring meeting. I’ll mention the content from my most recent meeting for context.
Monthly Topic: Each meeting centers around a topic (Marriage, Grace, Purpose, etc.). Now, of course, we could do in-depth biblical study on each topic, and there’s merit to doing so. But in a mentoring group, we want to focus on practical application. In my most recent meeting, we talked about Prayer.
Scripture Memory: Mentees are asked to memorize 1-2 Bible verses by keyword and then to recite them back to the group. The keywords help us easily recall the verses in real-life situations. My group memorized Philippians 4:6, with the keyword “Prayer,” and John 10:27, with the keyword “Listening to God.”
Book to Read: Each month, the group will read a book and complete a net-out of the practical takeaways from the book. I think the root of the “Where is the Bible?” question lies here. But if you pick your book right, not only will there be practical points to discuss, but it’ll have Scripture-based principles baked in. We just read Too Busy Not to Pray, which included ideas and applications like, “writing out your prayers and reading them back to God.”
Homework: Most months contain a relational assignment the men are to complete with or relating to their wives and another personal growth assignment. This combines what they’re learning with something they can do to grow as men and as husbands. In my group, each man was to pray daily with his wife . . . can you imagine the impact that has on their families?
Growth Partners: Between the sessions, each guy is paired up with another mentee (changes each time). They are to meet during the month to talk about the assignment, hold each account, and invest in their relationship.
For many years, I lived out of my head. I read books and attended Bible studies to try to learn as much as I could. But I could still fake my way through any event or situation based on the knowledge I had accumulated. My head may have been full, but my heart was empty due to the shallowness of my relationships.
Radical Mentoring helps men take their head knowledge (which is valuable) and in community, move it 18 inches down to their hearts where, as Henri Nouwen said, “our personalities are determined” and where “God dwells and where Satan directs his fiercest attacks.” We need classes that serve to increase our knowledge of the Bible . . . mentoring groups don’t replace that. But more than that, we need to see your men’s hearts come alive . . . because when that happens, it impacts their families, communities, and churches for generations to come.