A training gap and a mentoring appetite

by | 13 Jun, 2022

New research into the mission and church landscape in the UK was conducted in October/November 2021 and, while there’s a wealth of detail in the National Ministry Survey results, a couple of areas stand out in relation to the 9:38 agenda:

1. A need for more training in raising up the next generation of gospel workers

584 UK church leaders (mainly conservative evangelical) were asked how they would describe the provision of training and development available for them across a range of areas. The overwhelming majority of church leaders (87%) were happy with the availability of theological education and preaching training, saying they were very well or at least sufficiently provided for. However, in a number of other areas the picture was strikingly different – in particular in regard to leadership development and how to foster a ministry training culture – only 11% of church leaders said this was well provided for and 43% felt there is a distinct gap.

9:38 hasn’t got all the answers on this but a good place to start might be the collection of resources on this page and the tips from local churches collected towards the end of our own Ministry Training Survey. Please pray for the help of the Lord of the harvest as we and other like-minded initiatives seek to produce more resources in this area.

2. A very significant appetite for mentoring and coaching

Currently less than a third of church leaders surveyed have received 1-to-1 coaching or mentoring designed to strengthen them in their ministry and less than a quarter have received a constructive assessment of their ministry (or of the leadership team) from someone bringing an outside perspective and expertise. Where mentoring or consultancy has happened, the vast majority have found it helpful. Of those who have not received coaching/mentoring or consultancy yet, half would be interested in receiving it. If that considerable appetite was met, it would mean a more than doubling of current levels.

The extremely high appreciation of 1-to-1 coaching/mentoring by of those who have received it and the considerable appetite from those who have not, fits well with the scriptural testimony to apprenticeship and mentoring (e.g. Phil. 2:22; Acts 18:26) and it’s a model that 9:38 is passionate about.

Over the last few years a number of ministries have started to respond to the desire for coaching and mentoring and a variety of approaches have emerged. Distinctions can be made:

  • Between a) coaching/mentoring which is dealing primarily with relational, personal and spiritual issues, seeking to support, counsel and resolve conflict; and b) coaching/mentoring which is dealing primarily with missional and ministry issues, seeking to equip, strengthen skills and find ways forward for the gospel. (The first approach is often reactive while the second is often proactive.)
  • Between a) a facilitator approach, being a sounding board, helping someone clarify their thinking and come up with their own solutions; and b) an older more experienced gospel worker imparting wisdom, training in skills and giving direction on how to navigate challenges.

9:38 has produced a briefing paper on supervising trainees, distinguishing the roles of trainer, line manager, coach, mentor, counsellor etc. and discussing best practice.

Pray with us for the Lord to raise up many more Pauls and Priscillas and Aquilas to mentor the next generation of gospel leaders.

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