The new support teams for Messy Churches (starting in November 2020) means that we will shortly have a team of ‘Alongsiders’ to offer your Messy Church a listening ear, informal coach or critical friend. One of the new team, Helen Laird, explains why she thinks ‘alongsiding’ is so important:
Mentoring is biblical – Paul in Philippians 4:9 writes, ‘Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice.’ Now, Paul didn’t have qualifications in being a Christian, he was just doing his best with the knowledge he had. That is exactly what mentoring is. Walking alongside someone else, not being better than them, and definitely not being required to have the answers to all their questions. Did you know that many times in the Bible, Jesus replied to a question by asking his own question? That, I believe, is the art and skill of being a mentor, to ask a question of someone that will enable them to think through their own position in their own context and so to come to their own conclusion, of a course of action, which they themselves can shape as their situation changes.
I have both been mentored by great Christian people and I have in turn intentionally mentored another person. These experiences have helped me through tougher times and helped my mentee see different perspectives in situations. These were ‘official’ mentoring relationships, but of course often people mentor others just by doing life alongside others, in a relational way. That’s how I ended up assisting a few Messy Churches along the way; not that I am an expert in all things Messy, but I was prepared to walk alongside others in their contexts and ask questions that helped them see their way through to solve some of the issues they faced. Who do you – or could you – walk alongside and mentor?
As though planned to coincide with Mentoring Day on Tuesday 27 October, BRF has just published Tony Horsfall’s latest book Mentoring Conversations, a great resource for anyone involved in spiritual mentoring, Mentoring Conversations provides a basis for spiritual conversation in a mentoring context through 30 short chapters structured around six key topic areas: Foundations; Steps to growth; Living out your faith; Going deeper; Staying strong; and Living with mystery. Each chapter begins with a Bible passage or text, followed by the author’s comment on the topic, questions for discussion, and scriptures for further reflection alongside suggestions for further reading. We pray it is a blessing to your ministry.