What is mentoring?
Mentoring is a relationship in which vocational reflection, learning, and maturing are nurtured. Mentoring implies that one person is more experienced than the other in a specific area: a sharing of wisdom, wondering, and walking along with each other, provides the ingredients for growing skills, nourishing souls, and gaining clarity about vocational identity.
What is the Mentoring Groups Program?
It’s a program which brings together active, Christian Reformed Church (CRC) parish pastors to explore a specific ministry transition—while supporting, caring for, and encouraging one another. The Mentoring Groups Program has grants available to fund groups of four to six pastors (plus a facilitator) who desire to gather together to learn from each other while fostering wellbeing in their ministry, lives, and relationships.
Who is the program for?
It’s intended to assist pastors actively serving in congregational ministry in the Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRCNA). For this program, a pastor is understood to be an individual who is ordained (minister of the Word or commissioned pastor) and pastoring a congregation in a parish setting. Pastors in specialized ministry, such as chaplains or campus ministry, aren’t able to join a group as the focus is on transitions while in congregational ministry.
The mentoring groups must be made of both those who are currently in a time of transition and those who have gone through the same type of transition. The three transitions on which this program is focusing attention are these: when quietly exploring the possibility of a new call, the early years of a second call, and later career.
Note 1: A person may not be a part of two different mentoring groups at the same time.
Note 2: Spousal involvement is encouraged at one of the required face-to-face meetings.
Exploring transition. Pastors who are exploring the possibility of moving to a different church, taking a different position within the church, or even leaving ministry would fit into this transition. This can be the most challenging of transitions as rarely is there a safe place to work through the complexity of things to be considered. Confidentiality among group members will be key.
Second call. Many believe that since a pastor has already completed their first call, and is therefore “experienced”, entering a second call is easy and almost seamless. However, often that’s not the case. The first and second calls can be to very different types of ministry, contexts, or roles. And, pastors don’t know it all even if the second ministry setting is very similar to their first one.
Later career. Almost one third of CRC pastors are 55 and older. Vocational identity is just as important at this stage of life as it is during a pastor’s “earlier years”. Pastors need to be effective in the last chapter of their calling, and beyond—an especially complex challenge when ministry expectations and contexts have changed significantly. A unique challenge to later career pastors is that it can be difficult to receive a call.
What is the makeup of the group members?
Each group will have 4 - 6 pastors (plus a facilitator). The groups are to include a mix of pastors who are currently experiencing the transition which the group is exploring and pastors who have already had experience in it. (The types of transitions are: exploring a call, second call, and later career.) During the mentoring group’s year together, the "experienced pastors" will act as mentors to the pastors currently in the transition. For example, a group is formed exploring the transition into a pastor's second call. The group includes: four pastors who have moved into a second call in the last year or so, two pastors who have been in their second call for several years, and the facilitator.
How does the funding work?
The Mentoring Groups Program is funded through a Lilly Endowment grant. Grants are awarded to groups of pastors who covenant to walk together for a period of one year. Pastors submit a proposal/application to engage in mentoring around one of three transitions. Proposals are reviewed and grants are awarded as they are submitted. Because funds are limited, some proposals may not receive funding or may receive less than requested. Groups may receive one grant between January 2019 and December 2024. Requests for a renewal or second grant will not be accepted.
What kind of proposal is required?
We encourage a variety of proposals. A one-size-fits-all approach to mentoring in a variety of transitions is neither possible, nor wise. Plans may include face-to-face gatherings, attending a conference, going on a retreat, reading books, times of refreshment, etc. As each group of pastors is unique, so too will be the groups’ plans.
You let Pastor Church Resources know that you’d like to be part of a group by filling in this form. When we have enough people interested in the same transition, we’ll put a group together. Once the group members are set, they’ll then write a proposal.
Note: It doesn't matter where you live. Groups will be made up of pastors from all over Canada and the U.S.
What does the group facilitator do?
The facilitator will be a person who has the affirmed gifts to guide and shape the group’s activities, conversations, and learnings. While it’s not required that the facilitator has experienced the particular transition being explored in the group, it's preferred. Facilitators are required to prepare for, and be present at, all group gatherings and events.
The facilitator will receive a stipend of $2,500 USD, regardless of whether they live in Canada or the United States. This amount is not part of the awarded grant funds (which can be up to $10,000 USD). Facilitators who live in the United States will be required to complete a W9 form for tax purposes.
The group facilitator is required to engage in a Birkman assessment prior to a group beginning to meet.
The Birkman Assessment helps pastors find their vocational sweet spot - the place where their heart sings and where God is glorified. The process involves taking a 45 minute online survey followed by a two hour virtual debrief with a trained consultant. Many CRC pastors have already engaged in a Birkman, and all seminary students are now required to take it during their first year. It’s been very helpful to many and significantly impactful to some.
Group members are encouraged to take the Birkman. While it’s best for all group members to engage in a Birkman, it’s not a must. Everyone who takes it will be enriched by doing so.
How long does a mentoring group grant last?
The grant period is one year. The group will decide on the start and end dates when preparing the proposal. Groups, and expenses, may not start until after proposals have been approved. The one-year time frame is a firm minimum. While it may not be shorter, it can stretch a bit beyond.
Proposals are reviewed as they’re received. You’ll hear if you’ve received a grant within six weeks of submitting your proposal. Be sure to plan your first group meeting after the “six weeks”. Funding will only pay for expenses incurred after the approval process has taken place.
How often is the mentoring group required to meet?
Groups are required to meet a minimum of eight times with two of those times being face-to-face. The first face-to-face meeting should be very early in your year together and the second should be your final meeting. (Any meetings held to create the proposal do not count as required meetings.) Ideally, face-to-face meetings are two days and two nights. Spouses, if group members are married, are encouraged to participate in one of the face-to-face meetings. The group may choose to attend a continuing education event.
What will the grant money cover?
Mentoring group grants are intended to cover a range of possible expenses including learning resources (books, DVDs, etc.), travel, conference registration, lodging and meals while at a conference, face-to-face meeting costs, pulpit supply for the weeks when there’s an extended meeting (face-to-face meeting, attending a conference), and refreshments for meeting times. If spouses attend a face-to-face meeting, their expenses will be covered.
Ordinarily, funds requested for a continuing education event will account for 50% or less of the total amount requested. Exceptions will be considered. If an exception is requested, the reason why the costs are higher than 50% of the budget will be needed. The facilitator’s stipend ($2,500 USD) is not part of the grant request. It’ll be paid directly to the facilitator by Pastor Church Resources. U.S. facilitators will be required to complete a W9 form for tax purposes.
Grant money may not be used to: offset other organizational or personal expenses, cover activities initiated prior to the approval and processing of the grant, cover the purchase of any equipment, pay for items not listed in the grant proposal, purchase alcohol, cover any expenses for children to join their parent(s) at mentoring group meetings/events, travel outside of Canada/the U.S., compensation for the treasurer’s grant work, or any administrative expenses associated with the mentoring group.
What happens when a proposal is approved?
A proposal agreement and instructions will be sent to the facilitator. The agreement must be signed by the facilitator and the group members. The signed agreement, and revised proposal if required, are to be returned to Pastor Church Resources within 90 days. Failure to do so may result in the grant being reversed.
One-half of the grant amount will be sent to the group treasurer’s church. (An amount greater than one half may be sent, but only if warranted by the nature of the proposal.) The other half will be sent after six months, pending receipt of the group’s mid-year written and financial reports. At the end of the proposal year, unused funds must be returned.
Is there a deadline for submitting proposals?
No. Proposals are accepted at any time. Proposals are to be submitted electronically—either as a Word or Google document. We aren’t able to work with PDFs. Receipt of your proposal will be acknowledged with an email to the facilitator—usually within 2 days. If you’ve not heard from us, please call us to verify that the proposal was received. Groups are strongly encouraged to connect with our office for some wisdom and helpful tips that will make the proposal writing easier for you. It’s our goal to assist you in preparing the best proposal possible for the staff who will review it.
Pastor Church Resources will send notice about grants awarded to applicants within six weeks of the proposal being submitted.
Are there any reporting requirements?
The facilitator will submit a simple mid-year written report on the group’s experiences. The group treasurer will submit a mid-year financial report, including receipts, which accounts for use of the grant funds. When both reports have been received and are in order, the remainder of the funds will be sent to the treasurer’s church. At the end of the group’s year, the facilitator will complete a short final report of activities, outcomes, and learning. The group treasurer will send in the final financial report with receipts.
Note: Upon approval of a mentoring group proposal, specific reporting information and forms will be sent to the facilitator and treasurer.
What else do I need to know?
Pastor Church Resources may, in some cases, approve a proposal pending the group making some requested revisions to the group plan and/or the budget.
Information in mentoring group proposals and reports may be used by Pastor Church Resources on its website, in its promotional materials, or in its reporting to the CRCNA’s Council of Delegates, synod, and/or in the required annual reports to Lilly Endowment Inc. Nothing confidential will be shared with anyone at any time. No financial information will be shared outside of Pastor Church Resources.
For further information please contact:
877-279-9994 x2173 [email protected]