In this series (originally posted in 2009) we’re picking apart this episode in Luke 10 piece by piece, exploring what it looks like on the road to discipleship in the company of Jesus.
“The Lord now chose seventy (-two) other disciples and sent them ahead in pairs to all the towns and places he planned to visit.These were his instructions to them: “The harvest is great, but the workers are few. So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields. Now go, and remember that I am sending you out as lambs among wolves.”
PART 3: “He Sent them ahead in pairs…”
A basic point today on disciple-making in the church. I believe that one-on-one mentorship is the most powerful and effective way to grow someone up in the faith. Jesus sent his flock of disciples out in pairs. We shouldn’t read too much into the text, but I would guess he might have partnered them up by age or maturity in the faith — a new follower with a more experienced mentor.
Young babes in Christ need spiritual fathers and mothers to take them under their wing and teach them the Way of Jesus. Every church I’ve been part of agrees that this is true in principle. Most ministries attempt to facilitate some kind of student-adult mentorship program. But we need to distinguish between Christian friendship and Christian mentorship between a younger and older, newer and more experienced Christ follower.
But in my experience such attempts often never go beyond the friendship phase. I can give you a list of adults who befriended me as a teenager at church, invested time in my life, volunteered in the confirmation program, went along on our retreats and mission trips, and took a genuine interest in my life. But they were friends; not mentors. We had Christian fellowship together; but they did not disciple me in any meaningful way. They were friends, not mentors. They made an impact and blessed me; but they did not teach me how to be a disciple of Jesus.
Are you an adult volunteer with youth? Do you have the title “mentor”? Now, can you honestly say that you are actually discipling your students in an intentional, measurable way with a well-organized plan and pattern? Do you volunteer with a youth ministry? That’s not mentorship. Do you lead small group discussions? That’s not mentorship. Do you go along on retreats and trips? That’s not mentorship. Do you have coffee with younger Christians every once in a while? That’s not mentorship.
I ask these questions out of a legitimate concern as a youth pastor who has never had a mentor. How is it that I can be 30 years old and have never had a real mentor? I’m half to blame, yes. But the churches I’ve been part of are also to blame for settling for providing merely positive adult-student relationships that stop short of real, focused mentorship. Better than nothing; but still short of discipleship.
So, what DO I have in mind as legitimate, bonafide Christian mentorship? Simply this: A one-on-one relationship with an older, wiser Christian where they meet regularly (at least monthly) for Bible Study, prayer, accountability, wise counsel and such. Key words: One-on-one and meet regularly. On the bright side, we’re getting closer to actual mentorship in the church. But let’s not stop short and settle for great adult-student friendships. Let’s keep pursuing a church that organizes itself to make disciples through the power of one-on-one mentorship.
Who am I currently mentoring? Good question. I’ll get back to you in a bit. I’m too busy running a youth group program, organizing trips to organize, attending meetings, writing sermons, and planning a calendar at the moment. =/