Since Synod 1982, every newly ordained minister or minister who enters the Christian Reformed Church from another denomination has been asked to identify and meet regularly with a ministry mentor for (at least) the first five years of their ordained ministry.
According to Synod, a mentor serves as a “consultant, friend and confidante…[they] meet regularly...and in a pastoral mode discuss, guide, listen, encourage, confront and pray. [The mentor] works in a spirit of mutuality and collegiality with the pastor to whom he or she is assigned.”
Newly Ordained Ministers work collaboratively with their classis Regional Pastor to identify a mentor able to support the new minister and encourage him or her to grow.
The newly ordained minister should reach out to the regional pastor to talk about potential mentors. The regional pastor acts on behalf of the classis to encourage the new minister and ensure the new minister has identified a suitable mentor.
Generally, the regional pastor and classis will defer to the preference of the newly-ordained minister.
Note that while mentors are typically from the same classis, a new minister may suggest a mentor from outside the classis. In special circumstances, a mentor may even be found from another, closely-related denomination. Virtual mentoring (via video or telephone) can be just as effective as in-person mentoring.
Once the mentee has received confirmation from the mentor that he or she is willing to serve, the mentee should inform their regional pastor and Pastor Church Resources.
Selected by: A collaborative process involving mentees, regional pastors, and Pastor Church Resources.
Term of Service: Typically five years per mentee.
Function: To counsel, shape, advise, walk beside, and coach a newly ordained pastor during the first five years of his or her pastorate.
Competence, compassion, and wisdom.
Doggedly persistent, in the most gracious way, about the formation of those new to the pastorate.
Mentees and Mentors should routinely (once a year, at least) talk about expectations for the relationship. What is the mentee hoping to gain from the relationship? How does the mentoring relationship fit within the larger constellation of collegial supports?
Mentees need more than a mentor. One of the great gifts a mentor can give to a mentee is encouragement for the mentee to seek out and develop other intentional, support collegial relationships with pastors outside their immediate context.
Meet regularly: most mentors and mentees meet 9 or more times per year.
Mentees and mentors should remember that after this five year period, there is no formal institutional oversight to ensure a pastor has collegial support. If a pastor wants to be a lone-ranger in our system, the system allows it. Consequently, it’s vital to invest early in the habit of forming and prioritizing intentional, supportive collegial relationships.
If some structure is helpful, many mentees and mentors follow the chapters in the pdf booklet, Toward Effective Pastoral Mentoring. Others of you have tried going through one or more of the books recommended below. We also recommend the Pastor's Spiritual Vitality Toolkit for ideas. But often what works best is for mentors to ask mentees to set the agenda, bringing a question or observation to each mentoring session.
If the mentor or the mentee moves to a new ministry setting before the five-year time window is complete then the mentee could do one of two things:
Find a new mentor, someone who is more local to him/her.
Continue meeting with his/her mentor across distances via video or telephone link.
If the relationship between the mentor and the mentee is not a good fit then the mentee is always free to seek a different mentor, in consultation with the regional pastor. An annual, frank conversation between mentor and mentee about how the relationship is going can be a helpful means for both to discern whether to continue or change the relationship.