Mentoring in a church small group.
Let me illustrate walking the CURE steps by telling you a bit about the small group in our local church which my wife and I have led over the last 7 years or so on a fortnightly basis, from 7 PM to 9 PM. A 2 hour connect or growth group.
1. Connection from 7 – 7:30 PM and ongoing. The first half-hour is encouraging each other to with each other and with God, including possibly one worship song, and listening to may be what God has been doing/saying in each other’s lives. This step of connection continues throughout the evening providing the undergirding safety for a small group which can go deeper with each other. We actually use an acronym which fulfils this “s.a.f.e.t.y.” which we slowly try and teach our connect group members!
S = small and similar. So while we are different in the group, we have some similarities in terms of demographics of age group and generally are working in the professions.
A = attitudes of care, confidentiality and consent. While care is a given, confidentiality and church don’t always go hand-in-hand! Likewise, consent can be a bit thin on the ground, when it comes to for example even praying for the other person prior to asking them what they want! So we strongly teach a process of an “invitational posture”, where one stands beside and behind as it were another person, inviting them to consider possible options, one of which could beprayer for them.
F = facing and fun. We try and provide group which allows the possibility of going deeper than our faking, and has the safety to face their own issues, but also have the opportunities for fun. In particular we meet on a quarterly basis, and an annual weekend retreat to facilitate the fun aspects.
E = standing in someone else’s shoes rather than get under the skin!
T = time . That means people turning up on a regular basis (we meet fortnightly) in order to grow the sense of connection and safety.
Y = “you questions and I statements”. We use this as a catchphrase, to help stop people preaching in a small group context and to personalise what they might want to say.
2. Understanding from 730 – 8 PM. Here we read the passages within the Church Bible study and use one question about them to not only understand God’s word, but also each other. Again we emphasise the need for the s.a.f.e.t.y., And in particular the use of understanding “you questions and I statements” such as, “how is that for you?” Or, “In this context what happens for me is…”
3. Responding and moving on to engaging help from 8 PM – 9 PM. In the context of increasing the“s” of the “s.a.f.e.t.y.” by dividing into smaller groups of guys and girls, we are more free to then understand where different parts of us may be on the Square as noted above. Having the same goal as for ourselves in terms of moving towards God centred flourishing then informs what response “you questions”we can ask and what response “I statements” we can make. Again, these need to be based on the ongoing undergirding steps of connection and understanding.For example “I wondering what it could look like if God was more a part of this situation?”Or, “What I have done in this situation is….”
4. Engage help. Particularly in this last hour of the small group, we might ask “you questions” such as “who else do you need to be with you in this context?” One of the biggest ways we also encourage in terms of engaging help is for the role of connections with another follower of Jesus who they can be more open with (who may well be in another church). We call this, “twos and threes”. This again is a form of mentoring, using the same process as has been mentioned here.
Mentoring with family and friends.
Remember, mentorship is the intentional and proactive relationship of seeking to build the other up. With this definition it becomes easy to see how mentoring can become part of our everyday domestic/home life as we walk the steps. The CURE Steps are so easy to see that anyone can get it. It is not uncommon for my children to tell me when I slip up in my mentoring saying, “Dad, you are responding before connecting and understanding!”
In work and mission.
The same process of walking the CURE Steps to lift another up applies to our relationships with our peers and especially our junior colleagues and co-workers. Likewise, in the context of growing the Living Wholeness community, our growth is predominately based on a mentorship process as described here, with the goal of growing the other’s “T.A.S.K.” as mentioned above. Yes we do have bigger gatherings and conferences, but it is the small which really grows and undergirds the big. This process can last you a lifetime. While it is slow it is robust, and something which we can all do, anywhere any time.
How about you?
How is your own “T.A.S.K.” growing? Starting off with your own transformation, where are you at in the Square? What mentoring do you need? Where do your attitudes need to change? How can you grow in your skills and knowledge in the context of your relationships with family and friends, mission, at church and work?
Dr John Warlow