Practical Mentoring in a Typical Youth Group

Mentoring has become a “buzz-word” in the business world but the practice of developing another person for specific purposes of skill development or leadership has been around since the beginning of civilization, evident throughout Scripture – especially in the lives of Paul and Timothy.  Youth mentoring  has been an active social intervention associated with a wide range of beneficial outcomes for young people. Especially through supportive relationships with non-parental adults can have a powerful and positive influence on the course of young people’s lives.

Youth mentoring is defined as ‘a process by which a more experienced, trusted guide forms a relationship with a young person to offer support, guidance and encouragement, to assist young people to realize their potential as they transition into adulthood’ (Anderson, 90).  Whereas a ‘youth mentoring program’ is defined as: ‘formalized arrangements where a third party matches a mentor and mentee (or group of mentees), who together work through a planned, structured program over a sustained period’ (Dubois, 67).  A typical mentoring in a youth group just like other mentoring relationship is composed of four phases – preparing, negotiating, enabling, and coming to closure”(Zachary, 29).  These sequential phases build on each other and vary in length. In each phase, there are specific steps and strategies that lead to mentoring excellence. These phases are momentous to establish the entry prerequisites that are to be met, the phases help to initiate contact with your mentee, exchange background information before you talk for the first time, take time to get to know each other and determine the personal expectations of the mentoring relationship. The relationship should be defined from the beginning as mutually beneficial. Each participant has committed to the relationship by choice. Each should openly share his or her goals for the relationship and work collaboratively to help achieve them.  The four phases could be summarized as follows: Preparing, the discovery phase, when you find out if mentorship is right for you; negotiating: the business phase, when the mentor help the mentee set learning goals; enabling growth: the work phase, when the mentor support and provide feedback to the mentee; coming to closure: the assessment stage, where the mentor assess the value of the mentoring relationship and move forward.  

Other three  important qualities to begin a  typical mentoring relationship in a typical youth group are availability, faithfulness, and teachable.   Many young people would want to be mentored, from time to time wanting to learn how to develop their own leadership gifts; however as the mentoring process begins it may become clear they have not made the mentoring a priority in their schedules, as they are often unavailable to meet regularly.  The consistent meeting together is important for deep mentoring to take place, otherwise the mentor will be reduced to the role of counselor or consultant – which may provide meaningful perspective, but not enable effective mentoring.  The teachability of a potential mentee is gauge through offering of “challenges”.  Often at the stage the mentor would ask the mentee to perform some small task – read a chapter in a book, call the mentor  with a desired learning subject, etc.  In these initial conversations the mentor is able to determine if the mentee is teachable by their responses to the questions about their life and ministry.

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