About This Blog

Monday, October 30, 2017

"The Mentoring Church" (Phil A. Newton)

TITLE: The Mentoring Church: How Pastors and Congregations Cultivate Leaders
AUTHOR: Phil A. Newton
PUBLISHER: Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Ministry, 2017, (240 pages).

For any mentoring to be successful, it must begin with the leaders. Jesus did that with the Twelve. Paul mentored churches through his letters and personal visits. The Early Church community provided the environment for the growth of communities that cared for each other and shared with one another. Going through a historical survey from Jesus’ time to the modern era, readers get a feel of some of the different aspects of mentoring through well-known personalities. In the 16th Century, we read about the great reformers, John Calvin and Huldrych Zwingli. They stressed training in biblical exegesis; preaching; sound doctrine; and godly pastoral examples. The 17th and 18th Centuries are shaped by the Puritans, the German Pietists; and Colonial American Baptists. We come across names like Philip Jacob Spener, John Gano, and how they manage to mentor leaders in the midst of their faithful labor. By the 19th and 20th Centuries, new leaders emerge in the form of Charles Spurgeon and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Both remained committed to the ministry of the Word and the training of disciples. Contemporary figures mentioned include Mark Dever (Capitol Hill Baptist Church); JD Great (Summit Church); Scott Patty (Grace Community Church); and Al Jackson (Lakeview Baptist Church). After surveying the historical developments of mentoring and learning pointers from each era, Newton proposes four different models for us to consider adopting.

The first is the “Ecclesiological Boot Camp” model. Based on Zwingli, Calvin, and Spurgeon’s powerful teaching and preaching expertise, pastoral development and mentoring occurs within the confines of the local Church. Pastors and interns learn and are mentored through their interactions within the local church. Most importantly, they learn from the leaders through observing and watching them lead. The second is the “Sending Church” model where JD Greear’s Summit Church is a prime example. Instead of conventional approach of churches keeping the best people for themselves, Summit Church sends them out to plant other churches in obedience to the Great Commission. Popular among churches that call themselves “missional,” this model focuses on equipping leaders to plant churches, to look beyond their existing church buildings and structures and to envision having other churches growing and benefitting while they help supply the initial resources. Key to this is the exercise of faith that they do not wait to become a big enough megachurch before sending people out. They send (or begin the process of sending) people out regardless of what size and shape their congregations are.

The third model is the “Face to Face” model where young pastoral interns and junior positions are trained by experienced ministry leaders who genuinely cared for the spiritual development of these young ministry staff. They spend regular time to discuss projects, readings, Scripture, and other initiatives. This model also allows them to interact actively with the congregation as they bring this face-to-face model toward cultivating relationships. Scott Patty of GCC comes across as a caring and warm pastor in which his juniors and subordinates respect and care for.

The fourth model is “Church and Academy in Partnership” where both church and theological institutions work as one community instead of two. This calls for creative ways to develop and implement the strengths of both. The philosophy is that training and mentoring ought to be “Church-based” rather than “classroom-based.” The example of Lakeview Baptist Church (LBC) and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) is a case in point. Appropriate courses are intentionally planned and conducted in church settings. That way, theory and practice go hand in hand. The learning community becomes a teaching and mentoring community too.

The author concludes with five key observations.
1) Mentoring must be within a congregational framework
2) Mentors speak into the lives of their mentees
3) Mentoring focuses on relationships
4) Effective mentoring is more team based in training
5) Mentors trust their proteges

Every period of revival will often have a unique mentoring strategy whether implicitly or explicitly. As I read the book, looking through the historical developments of the early Reformation leaders; the Medieval and the modern periods of mentoring, I believe that most mentoring take place implicitly. All talk about models and strategies are explicitly referred to by succeeding generations. Put it another way, mentoring is often more caught than taught. Students learn best by being guided by the side instead of listening to a sage on the stage. Key to the whole mentor process is the mentor who must be healthy in order to help others. He must reveal God’s character through the Word. Mentoring is more about learning to follow Jesus in our uniquely created ways, with mentors helping us walk in ways to become more Christlike each day. Radical expectations revolve around following Christ. Community-based learning must be primary. Content-based training must be secondary. Most importantly, recognize how Jesus and many of the leaders in the book led by example. The calling for all readers is to be the apprentices and interns of Jesus.

Phil Newton is senior pastor of South Woods Baptist Church in Memphis, TN. He has been mentoring ministry leaders for many years. He is a regular contributor to The Gospel Coalition, 9Marks eJournal, and several others.

Rating: 4.75 stars of 5.


This book has been provided courtesy of Kregel Ministry without requiring a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

No comments:

Post a Comment