Guidelines

As mentors you may want to go beyond the formal structures which have been designed for the program since you have an intense interest in preparing candidates for ministry. Review areas out of your own life where you have had difficulty or where the advice of a mentor would have been helpful to you.

You may want to consider the following suggestions:

  1. Walk them through your library and tell them how you use these vital resources in ministry. How do you choose books for your library? How much is budgeted each year? Do you have them in a computer data base for checkout purposes? Do you encourage your laity to use these resources?

  2. Discuss one of your recent counseling cases (change it enough to make the persons anonymous and to protect confidentiality). Evaluate your own performance. Be vulnerable. Discuss the legal issues related to counseling. Tell them how you work with crises like suicide and abuse, among other issues.

  3. Give students an inside view of administration and church governance, e.g., discuss the power of agenda setting, the structure of the meeting room, and other contributions and distractions of meetings. Let them accompany you to a meeting. Tell them what to expect and then discuss the dynamics after the meeting is completed.

  4. Take students inside your mind and heart as you prepare a worship service. Why do you follow a particular order or why do you choose particular hymns? What is the place of liturgy? What biblical, theological, and practical motifs support your theories of worship? What are your expectations of worship? Discuss Isaiah chapter six as one model of worship. Discuss the way you create a worship service to provide an alternation between what God does and what the "actors" do.

  5. Rehearse your sermon preparation. Show how you choose a text, the exegetical and analytical aspects of your preparation and the hermeneutical process you use to interpret the text, the way you gather illustrations, and how you prepare to deliver the sermon. Discuss what it means to preach a biblical sermon.

  6. When the opportunities arise, give them instructions in preparing for a funeral, a wedding, a baptism, receiving of members, among other special services.

  7. Discuss your own spiritual and devotional life. Be honest with them. Tell of the dark nights of the soul as well as affirming the mountain-top experiences. How often do you have devotions? What is the best time of day for you? What resources do you utilize? Ask students about their spiritual habits.

  8. Work on priority setting. Discuss family issues, taking time for a spouse and children and vacations and time off for recuperation. Discuss "ministerial guilt" with them when one must choose between family and church.

  9. Consider periodic discussions on personal finances, church finances, tithing, financial campaigns, and stewardship among other related topics. Tell them how you pay your own way and do not expect gratuities from others.

  10. Give them opportunity for ministerial experience: preaching, teaching a Sunday school class, leading a small group, first-level counseling, working with children and youth and singles and the aged, among other needed experiences. Take them to the hospital when you call on your people. Help them to understand hospital procedures, the best times for visiting, relationship with medical personnel, and other related topics.

  11. Tell them of a critical clergy flaw -- leading worship but not worshipping. Help them to know how to experience worship when they lead worship. Tell them how you manage to lead worship yet stand on tip-toe with joy as you worship with the people. Tell them how you keep your pastoral prayers fresh and meaningful. Remind them of Soren Kierkegaard's concept that the typical church has God as the prompter, the minister as the actor and the congregation as the audience, when the proper roles are: the minister is the prompter, the members are the actors and God is the audience.

  12. It is assumed that one of your objectives in mentoring is to discuss the call to ministry. This is a crucial dynamic of your work with the students. You may want to discuss Tertullian's concept that "baptism is ordination into the ministry" (paraphrased) and then to distinguish between the general call of all Christians and the specific, vocational call to full-time ministry. You might want to discuss H. Richard Niebuhr's understanding of the call, in his book The Purpose of the Church and the Ministry.

  13. Discuss the ethical and moral implications of ministry. Make them aware of temptations that arise in counseling and visitation.

  14. Work with the students on an integrative model of spiritual formation. Remind them (and yourself) that the Protestant model is often a fragmented model -- the disassociation of intellectual formation from spiritual formation, and ecclesial formation from spiritual formation, and personal, interpersonal, and social formation from spiritual formation. Help them to integrate these.

  15. Provide resources for their devotional and prayer life. You could add other perspectives. We hope you will and that you will share them with the Director of Ministry Formation for future editions of this manual. Mentoring will transform the student and will revive your soul and will, we believe, prepare a more effective, servant minister. You have an opportunity to contribute meaningfully to the ministry. Thank you in advance for the part you will play in the process. You are the most critical link in our program. We cannot do it without you.