Everybody likes it in theory, but many of us struggle to do mentoring well! One of the most common areas of questions we are asked relate to mentoring. “Who should be the mentors of our Antioch School students?” “What are their qualifications?” “What exactly are they supposed to do?”
Here are a few quick thoughts about mentoring:
“Who should be the mentors of our Antioch School students?”
Essentially you should think of mentors as the people that God has already put in place for the development of your students. Of course, this includes you as a Certified Leader, but also pastoral staff, elders, other church leaders, students themselves, as well as family and friends of students. A mentor does not necessarily have to be someone in a formal position of authority over the student. The main idea in mentoring is to let those whom God has already put in place in your life to speak into your development.
It is good to identify a main mentor for each student who does many of the things described below, but who also orchestrates the mentoring by others for a student. For instance, long-time acquaintances may be best for some of the character assessments, but current ministry supervisors and colleagues may be best for some of the ministry assessments and guidance in ministry practicum. If you have a small program, you as Certified Leader will likely be the main mentor for students and be involved in many aspects of mentoring, but you don’t have to do it all, especially when God has already put others in place for aspects of this purpose.
“What are the qualifications of a mentor?”
There are no official Antioch School requirements to be a mentor. We begin with the theological assumption that God has already put people in churches (and church networks) to help with the development of students. The qualifications of a mentor are somewhat related to the type of mentoring to be done. Church leaders certainly have a special responsibility to be involved in assessment of character, ministry skills, and biblical understanding. However, others may be particularly well-qualified to help because of their special knowledge of the student or an area of ministry. Often, the best mentoring comes from overlapping assessment as mentors provide insight from different perspectives.
It is important that mentors have basic familiarity with the resources being used to assist in the mentoring. For instance, someone mentoring in areas of basic establishment and ministry qualifications should be familiar with the “Becoming Established” and the “Life and Ministry Assessment” tools. Someone mentoring a student in a ministry practicum should be familiar with the “Practicum Manual.” Certified Leaders of Antioch School programs should conduct occasional orientations or provide brief personal introductions to the resources being used by that particular mentor, as well as a general overview of the degree program as a whole.
The most significant qualification for mentoring is a commitment to the person being mentored and to the mentoring process. As a Certified Leader, your main job in mentoring is to help the right people have the right interactions with students. There are not strict guidelines for what needs to be done, but amazing things happen when you connect the right people with the right tools in mentoring. It is as if God intended for things to work this way in the church!
“What exactly are mentors supposed to do?”
This is the most commonly asked question about mentoring. We all know it is important and we want to do it well, particularly because it is a “requirement” in the Antioch School. Perhaps it is best to start with the big idea of what mentoring is from our perspective.
Mentoring of Antioch School students is intended to support mentoring that already exists and/or help provide a framework and tools for new mentoring that needs to be put in place. These mentoring tools are not primarily academic requirements, but leadership development tools from BILD International that were in use prior to the creation of the Antioch School. The more the use of the mentoring tools fits into the natural operation and relationships of a church or ministry, the better.
There is only one aspect of mentoring that is “required” by the Antioch School. Students are expected to meet with mentors at least quarterly to use the Personal Development Assessments (PDA) as points of reference in mentoring. The six PDA tools are: Becoming Established, Life and Ministry Assessment, Giftedness, Current Ministry, Ministry Team, and Journal of Mentor). This is not intended to be a rigid “filling out of forms,” but using forms to stimulate biblically comprehensive mentoring in relation to the churches and ministries of the students. The forms don’t have to be submitted, but students simply need to attest quarterly that they have met with a mentor and used the PDA tools as points of reference. Further guidance in how to use PDAs is found in the Personal Development Assessment Manual.
Additional aspects of mentoring are extremely valuable and recommended, but not required.
- Mentors can help coach students through the SIMA MAP process (and the annual MAP responses). Having a mentor involved in this process will greatly help students to understand themselves, their ministries, and how they fit on ministry teams.
- Mentors can help coach students through the Personal Development Plan process (and annual updates). Having a mentor involved will greatly help students to connect their development process with their life and ministry goals.
- Mentors can guide in the identification of ministry experiences to be used for Ministry Practicum, particularly if the mentor has experience and expertise in ministry areas. Having a mentor involved helps students set learning goals, prepare for the experience, evaluate the experience, and report on what has been learned. Similarly, mentors can help greatly in Teaching Practicum to help students learn from their teaching experiences.
- Mentors can check on progress being made in Leadership Series courses. It is particularly helpful for mentors to review the culminating work from Unit 5 projects and work being submitted in e-Portfolio as evidence of competencies.
Mentoring should not necessarily be thought of as merely an isolated one-on-one relationship. Mentors may meet with multiple students at one time, such as for the Becoming Established assessment or Ministry Practicums. This may add efficiency, but also effectiveness because it creates a dimension of mutuality in development.
In conclusion, we hope that you don’t view the mentoring dimension of the Antioch School as a “hoop to jump through.” Rather, we hope that you view it as the means by which you are able to accomplish the mentoring that you say is important, but may not be doing very well on your own.