Do you or your church feel a bit ‘stuck’ when it comes to connecting with people beyond your walls and sharing the faith with them? Maybe the first step is to be connected with a few good mentors.
Mentors are experienced and trusted advisors. But good mentors don’t simply offer advice. They function most effectively when they help people assess their own context and begin to engage in new behaviours. This sort of mentoring can help people and organizations flourish.
The Institute of Evangelism has called together a team of people with the experience and skills to help congregations learn new behaviours related to sharing their faith. Churches, presbyteries, deaneries and dioceses can all call upon this team to help them grow in evangelism.
Here’s what each mentor will focus on
Judy Paulsen will help churches assess their overall approach to mission (examining such artifacts as their budget, annual report, Sunday order of service, and organizational structures) and help them begin to reshape their common life in order to better share the faith.
Joanna Lafleur will help churches asses their on-line and print communications (including their website, social media, publications and signage) and shape these to better connect with those outside of the church.
Tiffany Robinson will help churches assess how they engage with children and youth, and shape their ministry (including their space use, curriculum, leaders, and seasonal events) to more effectively share the faith with the next generation.
Murray Henderson will help churches assess their present attitudes towards Christians sharing their faith with friends, family, neighbours and colleagues. They will also learn how to share, simply and respectfully, what their faith means to them.
Sean Davidson will help churches assess what small groups presently exist in their church and help these groups (as well as new ones) function in a more missional way, through such shared practices as hospitality, study, prayer and setting down roots in the Christian faith.
Matt Adams will help churches assess how engaged they are with their communities, and help them build relational connections in their neighbourhood in order to partner for good and provide strong foundations for sharing the gospel.
But how exactly will the Mentor Team work?
Groups of churches, presbyteries, deaneries and diocese will contact the I of E to be connected with a mentor who has experience in the area that group would like to focus on. The point person will then arrange dates and times with each mentor directly. We hope churches will come together in larger groups so that we can use the skills and experience of the mentors to the very best degree. Our Mentor Team is made up of people already engaging in ministry, and so can devote only a limited amount of time to this work. Groups wanting to start the process should give a lead time of around 4 to 5 months.
Once a date for a gathering is arranged, the I of E mentor will e-mail the point person a list of assessment questions for the participants to explore in small groups in the 2 or 3 weeks leading up to the large group workshop. This is a crucial step in the learning and growth process, since these small groups are the people who will know their own context best. The questions will challenge the smaller groups to begin to consider their present practices and resources, and how these relate to sharing the faith with those outside their churches. A point person will be designated to collate and summarize the small group responses to the assessment questions, and report on these at the upcoming workshop.
The mentor will then meet with the larger group for a day-long workshop. This day will be an actual workshop as opposed to simply a presentation. Participants will bring their collected discussion points on the assessment questions. The mentor may ask participants to bring to this workshop some other documents related to the life of their church that will also relate to the key area of learning for that workshop (eg. Annual reports, copy of website homepage, church budget, Sunday order of service, organizational chart, curriculum descriptions, specific parish statistics, neighbourhood map, newcomer information materials.) Prayer and study will be a key part of each workshop.
Each church will be challenged to draw up a short (2 month) and long-term (10 month) plan of action, in response to what has been learned through the self-assessment and the work-shop. A team from within the church will serve to follow-up on these plans, adjusting as necessary for the local context and determining next steps for learning.
Groups seeking the skills of the mentor will cover their travel and accommodation costs (if more than 2 hours from Toronto) and will provide a $500 honorarium for the mentor. This will be paid directly to the mentor on the day of the workshop.
One of the great tragedies of the Church across Canada is that it has largely failed to share the gospel with the 85% of Canadians that have little connection to a church or to basic knowledge of Christianity.
It’s time again for all Christians, both individually and as communities of faith, to hear Jesus’ calm assurance that ‘all authority has been given to me’ and to respond to his command to ‘go and make disciples’. Don’t settle for being stuck. Engage in some rigorous self-assessment and begin to take some solid steps towards becoming a church in which the norm is people of all ages coming to faith.