Creating a Mentoring Culture that is Lifelong and Life-Giving

By Lesli van Milligen

This fall, ThereforeGo Ministries along with the Faith Formation Ministries office of the Christian Reformed Church in North America have decided to partner together to respond to an issue that churches in Canada and the United States are facing: building a congregational culture that includes emerging adults. We have done some experimenting with both in-person and online gatherings of churches to explore the area of mentoring. Here is what we have learned so far.

A congregational emphasis on mentoring responds to current ministry shifts.

Renegotiating Faith, Growing Young and other studies speak to changes in youth ministry. Historically, youth ministry has utilized an approach where there is one adult connecting with every 5 students or a 1:5 ratio. Best practices in youth ministry have changed to a model that suggests each youth and young adult is surrounded by a web of 5 to 7 adults who speak into their life and support their faith formation in various ways. Creating a mentoring culture helps to support this kind of life on life interaction and encourages members to see themselves as significant parts of a young person’s faith web.

Secondly, there is a growing need to shift from age and stage-based model of ministry to an intergenerational model. Many congregations are finding an age-based ministry to be an increased challenge as the numbers of both youth and volunteers continue to decline. A mentoring approach is more inherently flexible and doesn’t rely on large numbers to be successful, it also allows for flexibility in meeting the individual needs of each mentee while inviting the entire congregation to share in mutual discipleship and faith formation.

So, why should my church consider joining a mentoring network?

Networks offer a supported learning environment where member churches learn from each other’s experiences. This is combined with a strong personalized coaching component that helps teams take risks they would not take on their own. We will be offering three opportunities for churches to join a network during the 21/22 ministry year and we pray that you would consider this as the next faithful step in your church’s ministry. More information about networks can be found at