Today guest blogger, Janet Thompson, shares about the importance of mingling generations in both small groups and mentoring relationships. I reviewed her terrific book, Mentoring for all Seasons, last week. Enjoy!
My husband and I met in a small group at Saddleback Church. We’ve been small group leaders since the early days of our marriage. Our first group to lead together was a Gary Smalley Making Love Last Forever couples group. While the couples were all married longer, we were the spiritually and chronologically older couple in the group.
We’ve gone on to lead Parents of Prodigals groups, small groups, couples groups, and Bible studies. Now we live in a rural mountain town, attend a small community church, and lead a couples small group. So we’re firm believers in small groups.
But here are some things I’ve learned about groups:
- Someone can get lost in a group. They may be dealing with issues they’re not comfortable talking about in a group so their problems stay hidden; but they’ll be open and vulnerable in a one-on-one mentoring relationship.
- There must be a spiritually older and mature Christian in the group, preferably leading.
- A group consisting of everyone at the same spiritual level, especially new in their faith or less spiritually mature, may become dissuaded and confused about the truth in the Bible.
- If the group is spiritually older Christians, they may not challenge each other to grow in their faith. They need to take their knowledge, wisdom, and experience and join or start a group of spiritually younger believers or seekers. This is biblical and part of God’s plan for the church.
When the young pastor Titus was starting a church plant in Crete and knew he couldn’t run the church by himself, Paul gave him instructions regarding the men and women in the church . . . I like The Message translation. Notice what Paul says is the “job” of every Christian:
Your job is to speak out on the things that make for solid doctrine. Guide older men into lives of temperance, dignity, and wisdom, into healthy faith, love, and endurance. Guide older women into lives of reverence so they end up as neither gossips nor drunks, but models of goodness. By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love their husbands and children, be virtuous and pure, keep a good house, be good wives. We don’t want anyone looking down on God’s Message because of their behavior. Also, guide the young men to live disciplined lives.
But mostly, show them all this by doing it yourself, incorruptible in your teaching, your words solid and sane. Then anyone who is dead set against us, when he finds nothing weird or misguided, might eventually come around. (Titus 2:1-8 The Message, emphasis added)
These are foundation verses for mentoring and for the first men’s and women’s ministry in the church! Every ministry should have the same mission statement and focus of spiritually older men and women teaching and training the godly life to the spiritually younger in all areas of the church. But over the years, ministry has drifted away from this focus, and sadly, the generations often segregate rather than learning from each other.
To understand the full impact of Titus 2:1-8, we need to read the issues Paul was addressing in the previous verses. It sounds a lot like our world today:
Everything is pure to those whose hearts are pure. But nothing is pure to those who are corrupt and unbelieving, because their minds and consciences are corrupted. Such people claim they know God, but they deny him by the way they live. They are detestable and disobedient, worthless for doing anything good. (Titus 1:15-16 NLT)
Titus 2:1-8 was Paul’s antidote for guiding the next generation of believers to discern between corrupt, detestable, disobedient mistruths of deceivers and the true teachings of obedient followers of Jesus Christ and His Word, the Bible.
6 Ways Mentoring Brings the Generations Together
- Recognize that women and men are always experiencing a new life season. How is your men’s and women’s ministry reaching each person in his or her season?
Incorporating an aspect of mentoring into all ministries allows a person who has gone through a life season to mentor those experiencing something similar. We’re always coming out of a season where we can mentor and going into a new one where we need a mentor. Mentors aren’t always chronologically older, but they’re always spiritually older. Maybe not by very much, but they should have more experience walking with the Lord than their mentee.
- Every ministry team should include younger and older members. In The Team That Jesus Built, I point out that a healthy, well-balanced team will have members representing:
- A wide age range
- All seasons of life
- Varied personalities
- Different spiritual gifts
- Also in the Team That Jesus Built, I stress the importance of every ministry and team leader mentoring an apprentice. A leader’s responsibility is to develop the next generation of leaders.
- Every facet of ministry should include spiritually older mentors—wherever the congregation is meeting. Be careful not to let ministries divide into “identity groups.” For example, a “moms group” should welcome all moms in all stages of motherhood—older, empty nest, stay-at-home, moms-in-waiting, working, adoptive, and grandmothers who can provide wisdom to younger moms.
- New believers need to know how to live the Christian life as a man or woman in all life seasons. They need a mentor.
- I would be remiss not to include a Mentoring Ministry. Matching a spiritually older mentor who has experienced a life season that the mentee is now experiencing is invaluable, as many of the sixty-five mentors and mentees share in my new book, Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness.
Young people are crying out for spiritually older Christians to come alongside them, but they may not know how to ask or find one who will take the time. We must do everything possible to bring the generations together in our churches, not separate them. The older generation should know how much the younger generation needs their wisdom and experience. God wants that “One generation commends your works to another; they tell of your mighty acts” Psalm 145:4.6 ways mentoring brings generations together by @AHWministries Click To Tweet
Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness is available now on Amazon, Kindle, and Signed by the Author at her website.
Janet Thompson is an international speaker, freelance editor, and award-winning author of 19 books. Her latest release, Mentoring for All Seasons: Sharing Life Experiences and God’s Faithfulness, is available at all Christian bookstores, online book stores, Amazon, and signed by Janet at her website store, where you can see more of her books.
She is also the author of Forsaken God?: Remembering the Goodness of God Our Culture Has Forgotten; Team That Jesus Built; Dear God, Why Can’t I Have a Baby?; Dear God They Say It’s Cancer; Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter; and Woman to Woman Mentoring: How to Start, Grow, & Maintain a Mentoring Ministry Resources.
Visit Janet and sign up for her Monday Morning Blog and online newsletter at womantowomanmentoring.com
You can also visit Janet at:
- Instagram: Janetahw