Once guys have been in a really good group, whether it’s a Radical Mentoring group or another flavor, they always want to be in that kind of group. Awhile back, I met with a young lawyer, an RM alum from a few years ago. He said, “My wife and I have been in community groups for years, but my mentoring group talked about real stuff. I want more of that.”
Is it because spouses are there? Or because the curriculum is too shallow? Is it because there’s not much homework involved? Or because attendance is spotty and there’s almost always someone missing?
I’ve led and been in a bunch of groups. I don’t know a magic formula to make a men’s group great. But I can tell you one fact from my experience, something I saw with my own eyes.
Since I started my mentoring groups by having everyone read Bo’s Café, the transparency and vulnerability more than doubled. And it happened fast, like in the first two meetings. I modeled transparency and vulnerability by telling my story . . . I didn’t leave anything out, including things I’m still struggling with. Then I assigned Bo’s Café to read before the second meeting when everyone else told their stories. Incredible openness right off the bat. It’s amazing.
Bo’s Café is a novel with two main characters. Stephen is the ambitious young executive who’s burning down every relationship in his life, especially his marriage. Andy is the older guy who decides to step into Stephen’s life and be there when he melts down. Andy introduces Stephen to the people who frequent Bo’s Café, all of them free, open, forgiven, broken, and vulnerable. When Stephen hits the wall, Andy helps him look in the mirror and see who he’s become . . . and who he can become through Jesus. As he develops new friendships with the humble, loving people at Bo’s, Stephen learns, “No one ever gets fixed, but we can mature in community.”
And that’s what guys are looking for . . . a safe place with guys like themselves. A safe place where they belong. Where no failure disqualifies them or makes them unlovable. A room of grace where they can share their lives, their stories, their screwups, their dilemmas, and their heartaches. Not a pity party, but a positive place where people who have experienced God’s marvelous grace add value to each other. Where God gets all the glory because His love and forgiveness enables everyone else’s love and forgiveness.
Radical Mentoring groups are Bo’s Café environments, but with one exception. There’s an older, more experienced guy involved who’s facilitating the discussion and keeping it focused.
If you haven’t read Bo’s Café, order it here and read it. It’s a good summer read (no net-out required). And then seriously consider making it your launch book for your group. If it doesn’t work out, blame me.
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