You Can't Have Babies if You Don't Get Pregnant

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Jim led a group for several years and did a good job. It was a strong group that met the needs of the members. Yet, he never seemed to be able to find an apprentice to mentor. So the group did not multiply. Then Jim had a stroke. He was physically unable to lead his group anymore. Since there was no one mentored to take his place, his group soon died. Looking back, Jim did nearly everything right, except mentor an apprentice.

Rod led a group for several years and did a good job. It was a strong group that met the needs of the members. And Rod mentored an apprentice named Scott. When Rod moved on to plant new groups, Scott took over. The group continued to grow. Over the years, Scott mentored apprentices like Mike, Mark, Dave, Dale, and Jamal. Eventually they led their own groups. Many of their apprentices became leaders. Mike and Jamal went on to plant new churches. Rod and Scott made mentoring a priority and multiplied the group several times. Highly effective small group leaders make a habit of mentoring apprentices.

Mentoring Is:

1. Mentoring is cooperating with God in raising up an apprentice to become a highly effective small group leader.

This may sound overwhelming but raising up spiritual reproducers is the heart of God. All you have to do is cooperate with Him in the process.

2. Mentoring is following the example of Jesus and Paul.

A study of the gospels reveals that mentoring was the method of Jesus. The goal of the Christian life is to be like Jesus. In no way is a Christian more like Jesus then when they are making disciples and raising up leaders. Before Jesus told his disciples to make disciples, He did it Himself. Men were His method. Jesus spent his ministry life mentoring future leaders.

Mentoring was Paul's method too. Paul told the Corinthians to follow him as he followed Christ. One of the ways Paul followed Christ was mentoring leaders. When he was killed, the ministry did not stop. Timothy, Silas, Titus, and others carried on.

3. Mentoring is the means of multiplying yourself

How many times have we wished we could be at two places at one time? Mentoring is the only way a busy person can minister in more than one place at a time. For example, fifteen years ago I started one group. I could only be in that one group. Yet, I mentored the people in that group to become multiplying small group leaders. Many of those in that group have spent time the last few years raising up group leaders. Today there are nearly one hundred groups from that initial group. So now, in a sense, I can be at one hundred places at a time!

4. Mentoring is the way one ordinary person can reach thousands

You say, "I could never minister to a thousand people." But if you are an effective small group leader, you can mentor someone else to become a leader. And by mentoring one highly effective leader at a time, you can eventually minister to thousands through the ministry of the leaders you have trained. Effective mentors understand that they will never have multiplied results until they multiply themselves into other leaders.

5. Mentoring is letting go of ministry in order to let others minister.

People fail to see their ministries grow because they hang on to them too tightly. They fall in love with doing ministry. They enjoy meeting people's needs and seeing them grow. Sometimes they even get their self-esteem from being needed by the members of their group.

The problem with doing the ministry yourself is that no other 'ministers' are developed. The ministry stops with you. Effective mentoring involves letting go of ministry in order to let others minister. It lets others get in on the fun of seeing God use them to change people's lives. Effective mentors learn to enjoy the ministry success of others as much or more than their own ministry success.

6. Mentoring is saying, "No" to the urgent in order to say, "Yes" to the potential of the important.

Satan does everything he can to keep us from Christ. Once we are in Christ he does everything he can to keep us from ministering. Once we are ministering, he does all he can to keep us from mentoring. This is because he sees the awesome potential mentoring has to expand the kingdom of God. One of his favorite ways to keep us from mentoring is to get us so caught up with the tyranny of the urgent that we miss the potential of the important. We get so caught up in doing ministry—the urgent, we fail to mentor leaders—the important. Effective mentors make the choice to make it a priority even in the midst of everything else they are doing.

7. Mentoring is the most lasting part of the ministry of small group leadership.

I have led groups for over 20 years. The thing I look back on is not the groups I have led but the leaders I have developed, especially those who are effectively mentoring others. I count church leaders, pastors, and fulltime missionary church planters among those I have had the privilege of mentoring. Their ministry has continued long after I have moved on to new areas of ministry.

Four Steps For Developing New Leaders

1. Model it.

Have them watch as you do the ministry, just as Jesus did with His disciples (Matt. 9:32-38). Let them see a highly effective small group leader in action. When Paul and Barnabas were sent out to minister, Barnabas was the leader . Barnabas was doing the ministry and Paul was observing. Note how they are listed as "Barnabas and Paul" (Acts 13:1-5).

2. Mentor it.

Have them do it as you watch, assist, correct, and encourage, as Jesus did with His disciples (Matt. 10:1). Not long into their journey, Barnabas moved over to give Paul the opportunity to lead. Note that they now were listed as "Paul and Barnabas" (Acts 13:6).

3. Motivate it.

Have them do it as you encourage from a distance, as Jesus did when he sent them out two by two without Him (Matt. 10:5). Similarly, when Paul and Barnabas prepared for another missionary journey, Paul was ready to go on his own. (Acts 15:36-41).

4. Multiply it.

The original disciples multiplied out to a total of 70 (Luke 10:1), then perhaps 500 (1 Corinthians 15:6). After Jesus ascended to heaven, the number of disciples began to multiply to 3,000 (Acts 2:41), then 5,000 men (Acts 4:4), then so many that the Bible just says the number was multiplied (Acts 6:7).

In like fashion, Paul was soon ministering without the help of Barnabas and beginning to take others through the process like Silas (Acts 15:39-41), and Timothy (Acts 16:1-3). By Acts 17:14, Paul left Timothy and Silas to minister in Berea on their own.

Mentoring Suggestions:

1. Never do ministry alone.

2. Take full advantage of all the training opportunities your church offers.

3. Be constantly on the look out for new leaders.

4. Talk of leadership as a privilege, not a burden.

5. Don't put yourself on a pedestal or good people will shy away from leadership.

6. Give responsibilities before you ask them to consider being leaders.

7. Always consult with those above you before you give any titles.

8. Realize that failing to mentor will always mean failing to multiply.

9. Do not release leaders until they have a good chance of succeeding.

10. As you move through the group cycle have your ministry role decrease and your apprentice's role increase.

11. Give lavish affirmation and encouragement to them each step along the way.


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