When it comes to mentorship, the church is poised to to play a leading role in our communities in innovating and designing the connection between older and younger generations. Here's how:
The church is one of the few places where people from all the professional sectors of society come together at least once a week. What a fantastic platform to pair young people with a passion for medicine with doctors, justice advocates with lawyers, budding entrepreneurs with business-people, lovers of art with artists. The list could go on.
If we can figure out how to harness the powerful potential of our churches to link experienced professionals with passionate NextGen to give them roots, experience, and relationship in their field in their community, we can more efficiently and effectively do something that takes a lot more work outside the church. And because of how the church is designed to work, it can not only pair like-professionals, but also create cross-sector relationships that are so important to figuring out sustainable solutions to hard problems both inside and outside the church.
It's in this area that I believe the church can make the greatest strides. When mentorship is talked about in church circles, it often feels like it begins and ends with discipleship - how does a person grow personally and spiritually? This definitely needs to remain an emphasis of mentorship, but also shouldn't be considered as the complete picture. Titus 3:14 instructs leaders to develop people for innovation, transformation, and development, and that means a focus on the many different patterns of a person's growth, passionate exploration, and paths towards their end goal. I believe mentorship as discipleship alone stems from a culture of silo-ing what happens in the church from what happens outside the walls. We can innovate two paradigms at once by considering how to implement professional mentorship in and through our faith communities.
Traditionally, new members of a company or organization experience the same on-boarding experience. They get hired, they are told about the company culture, they are trained in the company's ways, and are ultimately assigned to someone older or more experienced to get them fully entrenched in their work in the company.
In the 1990s, a group of CEOs decided to innovate the system. They called it mentoring-up. When new members of their company were added, there was intentional space provided them to talk with company leadership about the world as they saw it, trends to look out for, generational needs and desires, etc.
Mentorship can unintentionally become a top-down experience. Providing opportunities for younger people in church to tell leadership about the world as they see it and instruct older members about the needs of the future can create powerful relationship and collaboration. The Bible informs the humility and honor necessary on both sides of the table to make these connections happen (see Paul's letters to Timothy). If we get it right, our example can be one modeled and scaled outside the church.
So there it is - a positive note for your faith community when it comes to engagement with younger generations! What are you doing as a mentor, or your faith community doing to mentor? How do we continue to perfect the opportunities mentioned here? Comment below!