The Why and How of Mentoring

Today, it seems young Christians are frequently left to their own devices after baptism. They may be encouraged to attend a particular small group or to participate in a certain ministry capacity but often the one-on-one discipling relationship they had prior to their baptism is lost once the wet robes from the baptismal are taken off. My intention in this blog post is not to rail upon those baptizers, but rather to look into a discipleship function that is sorely lacking in many of today’s churches and encourage all of us to be more mindful about taking part in reintroducing it.

What is discipleship?

This discipleship concept would be best described as a mentoring relationship. A mentor isn’t something explicitly described in the Bible but we can see the relationships taking place within parts of the narrative. To mention a few examples: Samuel took up the responsibility of being a mentor to Saul, Elijah trained Elisha for years, and Jesus Christ became a mentor for His disciples. The mentoring relationship I would like to focus on is between the Apostle Paul and his faithful protégé, Timothy. It has been commonly said in the pulpit that every Christian should strive to have a Paul (a mentor), a Barnabas (an encourager), and a Timothy (a student).

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Paul and Timothy excel in showing us what a mentoring relationship can and should look like.  This is best seen in the two letters that Paul wrote to Timothy (1st and 2nd Timothy). It is from these sources that we will primarily attempt to formulate the picture of what a successful mentoring relationship should look like. 

But before this can be undertaken the following question must be answered:

Should all Christians have mentors?

Absolutely.

A Christian mentoring relationship, properly utilized, can be nothing but advantageous for the faith and ministry of both the mentor and the student. I have had a few different mentors in my time at Central Christian College of the Bible here in Moberly, Missouri. Each one has helped me grow in my faith and reach new limits in my ministry. It has been useful to have personal instruction from my mentors in places they noticed I could use some growth. In addition, my mentors have encouraged me to get out of my comfort zone in my ministries and try new things. But the best part of having a mentor is not having an instructor of sound doctrine or having someone to encourage my growth. It has been having someone I can watch live out what has been taught.

Even most young Bible readers are very familiar with the book of Proverbs. Proverbs is littered with sound and practical instruction from the wise King Solomon himself. Many Christians will commit themselves to reading a chapter out of Proverbs each day to find how the teachings can come alive within themselves as they carry it out. But could you imagine just how beneficial it would be to also have someone deeply invested in your life while putting flesh to the framework of sound teaching?

While a mentoring relationship isn’t specifically prescribed in the New Testament or really even explicitly mentioned, it is something that is described thoroughly, especially in the relationship between Paul and Timothy in the Pastoral Epistles.

What does a Christian mentoring relationship look like?

The Apostle Paul is well known as the man who brought the Gospel to the Gentiles during the time of the book of Acts. Throughout his ministry career he made friends as well as enemies, but one of his closest associates was Timothy. Timothy was a young man with a Greek father and a Jewish mother. His father isn’t mentioned beyond this in the New Testament, but we see Paul take up this place as a spiritual father and he even calls Timothy “my true child in the faith” (1 Timothy 1:2). That Paul takes up a parenting role for Timothy is one of the foremost aspects of the Christian mentoring relationship. Paul acted as a spiritual father to Timothy by circumcising, teaching, leading, encouraging, charging, and sending him. Paul became personally invested in Timothy’s faith and his ministry.

It is of no doubt that Timothy was able to grow in his faith because of how influential Paul was in his life. Paul was around to live out the gospel right in front of Timothy’s own eyes. It is one thing to hear or read sound teaching in the class room, typical Sunday sermon, or in personal or communal Bible study. It is another to be able to witness the Word being lived out in the flesh. Timothy was blessed in that he was able to have such a mentor as Paul involved in his life.

Another key factor in this relationship is that Paul helps Timothy form and reshape his character in a way that betters his ministry. It is commonly thought by bible scholars, including Gareth Reese of Central Christian College of the Bible, that Timothy was of a timid disposition. Paul consistently gives Timothy charges throughout his letters to be bold in his ministry, to remain above reproach, and to preach the Word both in and out of season. Paul recognized shortcomings in Timothy’s character and encouraged him to grow out of his weaknesses. While this could be, and should be, applied with young and old ministers specifically, I also believe that every Christian should strive to have some form of mentoring relationship to aid in character development. Timothy, without the encouragement and mentoring from Paul, ran the risk of failing in his ministry and/or shipwrecking his faith.

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Not only did Paul help Timothy form his character, but he also helped him grow in his ministry. For a while Timothy followed Paul around on his missionary journeys, but after a time Timothy had grown enough to stay in cities without Paul or even to be sent by Paul to cities to help the churches there. Clearly Paul had great influence on Timothy’s ministry career. Throughout the Pastoral Epistles we can see Paul instructing Timothy in things such as church structure, roles of men and women in the church, and sound doctrine. All of these were ways Timothy was to fulfill his ministry.

One of the final aspects of the Christian mentoring relationship, and the one that I would say is the most pivotal as far as how far-reaching it can be for the Kingdom, is the concept of “each one teach one”. Paul and Timothy traveled together often and we can even see Timothy being a co-author for some of Paul’s books. Clearly, Paul thought that Timothy was capable enough to take part in writing some of Paul’s letters and to play a significant role in his ministry.

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                                                                     (map found here

This was only possible because of how strong in his faith Timothy had grown through their mentoring relationship. For every Christian that is in currently being mentored, it is their duty to carry on this model and mentor another.

How can a young Christian get a mentor?

There are a few options available for a young Christian to get a mentor in their life. The first is to find an older Christian who is actively involved in their congregation. This could be an elder, a deacon, a preacher, their own father or mother, or just any mature Christian in their congregation. Most older Christians are usually salivating for the opportunity to get involved in a young person’s life the way Paul was involved in Timothy’s life. All it would take is to ask.

Another option is to get involved in a ministry. Often times, being involved in ministries can open doors to meeting older ministers who would be willing to invest. This will usually be a boss or a supervisor. This can also be an excellent way to find someone you yourself can begin mentoring.

Finally, the last option- and the one that I would most encourage- to find a Christian mentor is to invest in a formal Christian education. Most Bible colleges are full of faculty and staff as well as older students who are more than willing to mentor others because they are getting mentored. Students at Bible colleges can be mentored in the classroom and in the dorms. Also, many churches located near Bible colleges are actively involved with the college and will gladly take the opportunity and responsibility to aid students in their ministry training.

Whichever option you decide on, be sure that your mentor is someone who is willing to spend a large amount of intentional time with you.  Find someone who is willing to be honest and also who has years of experience in being a mature, disciplined Christian. Finally, be willing to humble yourself to not only hear hard teachings but also to change. Be willing to change into someone who mentors others in the spirit of “each one, teach one”.

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This post was contributed by current student Jake St. Clair.

10 Creative Ways to Give

This post is a continuation of the previous one and is also provided by Kirk Schlabaugh, graduating senior. 

Our last post strove to challenge the way you think about giving and how you define being “wealthy” enough to give. You may be saying to yourself, “Kirk, get real- I am a college student making an annual income of negative four thousand dollars. I am in debt up to my eyeballs. How can I give?!” Your dilemma is real, and I hope that I can encourage you. Earlier I defined being rich toward God as loving God and loving others by using our resources to advance God’s kingdom. Resources are not just monetary wealth; they’re your time, energy, pop-tarts, cars, and whatever else you can use. You have something to give. You can partake in the superior blessedness of giving over receiving (Acts 20:35).

Maybe you are well-to-do or have realized from part 1 of this post that you are more well-off than you thought. Understand that a sacrifice acceptable to God is more than just a hefty donation in the offering plate once a month at church. God wants all of your life (Romans 12:1-2). What are some ways you can be generous and rich in good works?

  1. Offer to use your home for small groups and Bible studies.
  2. Give car-less people rides in your car and ask them about their lives.
  3. Find kids at your high school who don’t get breakfast (statistics show there are plenty of them), and give them pop-tarts in Jesus’ name.
    hungrykids
  4. Partner with missionaries through prayer and/or financial support. Here is just a sample listing of some great organizations seeking to advance God’s kingdom:
    1. Pioneer Bible Translators

    2. Team Expansion

    3. Global City Mission Initiative

    4. Jungle Kids for Christ

    5. Rescue Innocence
    6. Yezelalem Minch 
    7. Christian Campus House at the University of Missouri

  5. Pray for and support a Bible College that is developing servant-leaders for the church! Central has been beneficial to me and my growth as a disciple of Jesus and I strongly urge you to partner with them in their mission to develop servant leaders for the Church.
  6. Go to a nursing home, spend time with the residents, and offer to pray with them (get connected with needs of this kind in your area here!).
  7. Give to your local church and be involved in the ministry they do.
  8. Pay attention to the needs of your neighbor and look for ways to help them in Jesus’ name.
  9. Find someone who needs Jesus and get coffee with them and pay for it.
  10. Find another Christian you want to disciple/encourage and get coffee with them.
    barnablog

There are many ways to devote yourself to good works and be generous and ready to share. Walking in these good works will be uncomfortable and it will feel strange to begin talking to people you would normally not associate with. Following Jesus as a rich person (or any person) is costly. When wealthy people humble themselves and use what they have been given to advance God’s kingdom, they show who Jesus is. I want to appeal to you once again to consider giving in two ways:  (1) yourself to good deeds in Jesus’ name and (2) your resources to help others come to know Christ, “so that they may take a hold of what is truly life” (1 Tim 6:19).

What ideas would you add to the list?

Find More Bible

Looking for answers
Perhaps it has happened to you.

You are preparing a Sunday School lesson, have a question, and can’t seem to find a response that seems sufficient.  You search resources available to you, but you just can’t put your finger on a satisfactory answer.

Perhaps you have recently been called to a ministry in your church and it has taken you out of your comfort zone.  In your heart you really want to serve the Lord to the best of your ability.  However, you feel like you aren’t equipped well enough.

Or perhaps a coworker, or even your child, asks you a question about the Bible or about the Church and you wish you could give a better response.  Though you feel confident in your faith, you just wish you had a better answer to give at a deeper level.

If you have ever felt this way, know that you are not alone!  There are many who, like you, are searching for answers in their pursuit of studying the Bible, understanding what it says, and applying it to ministry in the local church.

Helping meet a need
Central Christian College of the Bible recognizes that a need exists to help more people find answers to the questions they have about the Bible.  Further, a need exists to discuss the Bible at a deeper level—deeper than what space permits in Sunday School lesson commentaries and small group discussion guides.

This blog, findmorebible.com, is designed to help meet this need.  Professors, students, and alumni of Central contribute to this blog which discusses the Bible and ministry in an in-depth manner.  We want to help you, the reader, dig deeper into to the greatest Book of all and what it means for your life.  We want to help you on your journey to know the Bible better, to study the Bible for yourself, and to be better equipped to serve in your home church.

The binocular effect
If you have ever looked through a pair of binoculars, you know that they allow you to see details up close and personal.  Take this picture which features one pair of binoculars.  

These binoculars allow the viewer to see the bird in wonderful, crisp detail from a great distance.  The value of the binoculars is that they allow close examination of a specific object.

However, there is a tradeoff.  In choosing to view the bird up close, the viewer cannot see the big picture of the forest.  It is impossible to view both the broad picture and the small detailed picture at the same time.  The viewer can only focus on one or the other at the same time.

Blogs work the same way.  Their value lies in the specific subjects on which they focus.  It would be possible to blog on anything and everything.  Even within Christendom, one could write about a myriad of different subjects.  However, as soon as the choice is made to focus on the broad picture, the tradeoff is that much less focus is able to be given to the vivid details and contours of a specific subject.  Call it the binocular effect.

The focus of findmorebible.com
Findmorebible.com “looks through the binoculars” and focuses on the Bible in the three specific areas of Bible content, Bible study, and the Bible and ministry.  Every blog post found on findmorebible.com focuses on the Bible in one of these three ways.  We want to help our readers know and understand the Bible better and how it applies to serving in the local church.

Let me elaborate on these three areas.

  1. Bible content:  what does the Bible say?
    We are living in a time that is becoming increasingly post-Christian.  For example, the Barna Research Group found that in the span of two years- from 2013 to 2015- Americans who qualify as “post-Christian” rose from 37% in 2013 to 44% in 2015.

This means a greater need exists more than ever for Christians to simply know what the Bible says.

There are several reasons for this.  One is that many Christians who are new to the faith need to understand the content of the Bible.  They need to know what the Bible says and how the pieces of the Bible fit together.  Take an example.  Matthew 27:51 records that when Jesus died, “the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.”  Someone new to the faith probably has little idea was this detail means.  However, when read in light of the design of the tabernacle in Exodus 25-40, this becomes a very significant detail:  because of the death of Jesus, the way is opened to the presence of God!

The point is that there is an ongoing need to discuss and understand the content of the Bible.

Another reason to focus on what the Bible says is to enable us to be better prepared to defend the Scripture when attacks are leveled against it or when misinformation circulates about the Bible.  For example, it is assumed by many that Eve sinned by eating an apple in the Garden of Eden.  However, the Bible does not speak of an apple tree.  Eve ate from the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (see Gen 2:15-17; 3:1-6).

More serious is the often quoted words of Jesus in Matthew 7:1:  “Do not judge so that you will not be judged.”  This passage is generally used in such a way to say, “You don’t have the right to say what I am doing is wrong.”  Yet in the same context Jesus says, “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine” (Matt 7:6) and, “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves.  You will know them by their fruits” (Matt 7:15-16).

Jesus clearly teaches us to make judgments about the actions of others.  What He prohibits is the hypocritical type of judging which picks at the fault of a brother all the while having a glaring sin in one’s own life (see Matt 7:3-5).

Focusing on Bible content is the solution to correcting misinformation that circulates about the Bible.

What about attacks made against the Bible?  For example, it is assumed by some that the Bible and science are hopelessly inconsistent with each other and therefore the Bible cannot be trusted in matters related to science.  However, focusing on content of the Bible shows that the Bible can be trusted, as some top Christian scientists have demonstrated.

Findmorebible.com focuses on the content of the Bible in an in-depth, academic way.

2. Bible study:  what does the Bible mean?
Closely related to Bible content is Bible study.  Not only are we interested in what the Bible says; we also want to know what it means.

Findmorebible.com is devoted to understanding what the Bible means and helping our readers grow in their own ability to study the Bible for themselves.

An old adage says, “Give a man a fish and feed him for a day.  Teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime.”  Findmorebible.com is devoted to teaching others to study the Bible so they can feed themselves spiritually from God’s word for a lifetime.

There are many topics pertaining to Bible study which are worthy to explore in  detail.  Take parable interpretation as an example.  Some of the most well-known teaching of Jesus came in the form of parables.  Yet scholars have long debated how parables should be interpreted, as Craig Blomberg aptly explains.  For much of church history the parables of Jesus were heavily allegorized and treated anachronistically.  However, in the late 1800s Adolf Julicher wrote two volumes on parable interpretation which concluded that parables often have only a single point of comparison between the story in the parable and what the story represented.

This led to the “rule of parable interpretation” that parables have only one main point.  This view is problematic in that some parables have multiple points.  For example, in the Parable of the Sower (Matt 13:3-9, 18-23), Jesus makes four points with four different soil types!

It is necessary to explore the issue of how to study the parables of Jesus in order to understand individual parables more accurately and also to help others interpret all of the parables for themselves.

Findmorebible.com is devoted to exploring what the Bible means.

3. The Bible and ministry:  how does the Bible apply?
Consider the carpenter who has a passion for building houses.  He has all of the tools necessary in his toolbox.  Through years of study and practice in carpentry, he has the knowledge of a master carpenter.  Imagine his frustration of having everything he needs, but no outlet to share it.

Or think of music.  Imagine if you purchased a guitar and had all of the accessories to play beautiful music in your hands.  You also have studied music and honed your ability to play the instrument.  Imagine the frustration of having everything you need, but no outlet to share it.

So it is with learning the content of the Bible and studying the Bible.  It would be incredibly frustrating to have the tools and knowledge you need and yet have no outlet to share it.

Thankfully, God provides an outlet for us to put to practice what we learn from His word:  ministry in His kingdom.  Jesus has commanded us to “make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt 28:19-20).

In Ephesians 4:11-16, Paul teaches that Christ “gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ” that the body of Christ might attain maturity.

In the church, God has placed the members in the body as He desired (see 1 Cor 12:14-27).  Just as with our human bodies, each member of the body of Christ is important and has a unique role to fill.  Among other things, we are directed to “stimulate one another to love and good deeds encouraging one another” (Heb 10:24-25).

Findmorebible.com is devoted to helping readers more effectively put their Bible knowledge and Bible study to practice in the God-given outlet of ministry in the kingdom of God.  Here are some examples:

  • Help Sunday School teachers be more successful in their ministry.
  • Help parents give solid Bible answers to their children.
  • Help elders more wisely shepherd the flock of God.
  • Help deacons better serve in their ministry roles in the local church.
  • Help those aspiring to preach be better equipped.
  • Help children’s ministers to more aptly teach and shape children for Christ.

Having all of the right tools and knowledge is not enough.  It must find an outlet.  Findmorebible.com is devoted to helping readers more effectively minister in the kingdom.

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