A few weeks ago, I offered some thoughts on the Generation Gap in the Southern Baptist Convention - specifically, how we might better involve younger leaders in the Convention matters. One of my suggestions was that we “get together” and that older leaders reach out and actively mentor younger leaders. Just how can this be done?
1. Start with occasional meetings and see where they go.
Most young pastors I know would be thrilled to spend time with an older pastor. Developing a mentoring relationship will not happen overnight. But once-a-month meetings would be a step in the right direction. Having the telephone/email line of communication open will also help.
For young pastors or older pastors a little gun-shy of committing too much too soon, a one-time meeting isn’t a bad idea either. Not every mentoring relationship is going to click. The one-time meeting might be a good start because there is no commitment beyond the initial meeting. If additional meetings follow, great! If not, the one-time meeting is not a failure.
Don’t be scared away from the idea of adding weekly/monthly meetings to your already-filled-up plate. Meet when you can and let God use the counsel of godly men to help you in life.
2. Meet with pastors in your area across generational lines.
At the state level, one can meet with pastors from the same area or pastors of all ages who are interested in similar ministries. Many states can and should take the initiative to link pastors up with other pastors. If you are a pastor looking to mentor younger people or you are a pastor looking to be mentored, call your state convention. Find out when pastors are meeting. Find out what you can do to initiate some pastoral friendships.
3. Start mentoring now.
If the younger generation is going to avoid seeing a Generation Gap in fifty years, we must begin mentoring people now. If you are a pastor established in a local church, bring on an associate that you can pour yourself into. If you are a young pastor in a small church and have served several years, meet with and encourage a younger pastor in a small church who is just getting started. If you are a fourth-year Masters of Divinity student, meet with and encourage a first-year student or a college student. As younger leaders, we must not make the mistake of waiting to be mentored by others. We need to be actively mentoring those who are coming up behind us. That way, when we are in our forties and fifties, mentoring will be second-nature, an integral part of our overall ministry.
4. We Need Mentoring on the National Level.
Several years ago, Jimmy Draper saw the need for young leadership and started the Younger Leaders’ Summit. Draper’s initiative was a good start, but much more should be done. If the Convention hopes to see a resurgence of interest by the young leaders of the Convention, the Executive Board should reach out and mentor young men who show promise as leaders of tomorrow. Every man occupying a position of leadership within the Southern Baptist Convention should be mentoring younger leaders. If the Convention is to continue on for the good of God’s Kingdom, we must be investing our time into each others’ lives, not just our money into the organizational structures.
5. Let’s take each other seriously.
I mentioned in my previous post about the Generation Gap that our future ministry will be impoverished if we Timothys prefer to spend all our time with Tituses and not the Pauls of the SBC. Not all young leaders want to be mentored. But many do. The younger leaders hope the older pastors will reach out.
If a younger pastor tries to initiate a mentoring relationship with an older pastor and is rebuffed, he will probably not try again and instead assume that all older pastors are apathetic to the upcoming generation. If an older pastor seeks out a younger pastor and is rebuffed, the older pastor will be less discouraged and will probably move on easier to the next guy. Older leaders generally have the wisdom to recognize younger pastors who are hungry and teachable.
6. Let’s Cheer Each Other On
Consider how refreshing and encouraging it would be for a younger pastor to have two or three older pastors cheering him on as he seeks to shepherd his people! Consider how encouraging it would be for an older pastor to see the fingerprints of his own ministry on the lives of two or three younger men that he has mentored – men who are now cheering him on as he approaches the finish line! Why miss out on the opportunity to learn from each other? Let’s join hands across the denomination and invest in each others’ lives. We will be the better for it and God’s Kingdom will be too.
Bridging the Generation Gap in the SBC
Evidences of Grace in the SBC
written by Trevin Wax © 2008 Kingdom People blog