I review lots and lots of books these days. I review in a year about a tenth of the books that Tim Challies reviews in a week. One of the things that a reviewer learns is that the book publishing world is massive. I end up with whole stacks of books on all sorts of subjects. I confess to not getting every review book read. The very good ones are not read deeply enough.
But a reviewer is a scout. He rides way out front and discovers what lies ahead. Speed is essential.
A book reviewer or reader has to know what niche to place a book in. Books fill a number of purposes, some greater or deeper than others.
One of my recent reads, in order to post a review, was Building a Ministry of Spiritual Mentoring by Jim Grassi. This is a good second or third book to read on mentoring.
I have been increasingly convinced for several years now that spiritual mentoring is vital to the health of individual Christians and the church. I preach sermons. I love preaching and the impact of sermons. But sermons are not up close and personal enough. Sermons speak to all, while mentoring addresses the individual. Mentoring is an indispensible complement to sermons. Paul mentored Timothy. That mentoring took them to many lands and situations. Paul continued mentoring Timothy via his letters after Timothy was assigned to the church in Ephesus. Paul exhorts Timothy to preach the Word, but also to mentor a core group who will then mentor others. “And the things that you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2).
No man is an island. Every man will be mentored. A mentor is a teacher, a personal trainer, a guide. The culture around us, the values of the unbelieving world, the sinful human nature, and the devil are all out there offering mentoring at discount prices. It is highly questionable whether someone can be saved, but not mentored, or discipled.
No doubt but that women and girls in the church need good and godly sisters-in-Christ to guide them along the way. Paul tells Titus that the older women (and “older” is relative to the average age in a church) are to be teachers of good things to younger women. Women’s ministries are vital, absolutely essential, to the life of the church. In an effort to offset the feminist and egalitarian impulses in the church world, some Christians (alas, many of us Reformed folk) have overly limited the teaching role of women. The motive was to prevent women from being pastors and exercising authority over men. The excess was in stifling the needed role of women mentoring women.
But men are the biggest potential failures and losers in Christ’s kingdom. Satan has many disguises that lure men toward passivity and feminization or to a warped masculinity and ungodly totalitarian style. Men are posers and are masters of deceit. Even though Jesus came into this world a male and gave us a model of true Masculinity, we men fail.
Hence the importance of mentoring. This book, Building a Ministry of Spiritual Mentoring, contains lots of guidelines, suggestions, and methods for implementing successful mentoring programs in the church. That is why it is a good second or third book.
Jim Grassi’s prior book is titled The Spiritual Mentor. That book, along with many other current books, give more of the content and methods of spiritual mentoring. One doesn’t have to get a book with the word “Mentor” in the title for instruction. Any book or Bible study that faithfully lays out patterns for Bible study, doctrine, prayer, and practice will work.
After one has actually either started mentoring or found a mentor, then books on building these programs in the church can be used and implemented.
For several years now, I have been burdened with the topic of mentoring. Part of what the Lord has shown me is that I may not be the one who will be doing the mentoring in a way that I want to see it done. Pastors and preachers cannot always be the personal training mentors for every man and boy in the congregation. We preach to equip the saints for works of service.
I have also been reminded that as a teacher in a Christian school, I am doing mentoring work. I don’t teach books and information. I teach children. I teach boys and girls, young men and young women, who are growing in mind and spirit. As a teacher, I experience strong connections with some students and not as much connection with others. That is fine. The student who comes alive in literature class will bond with me more than the mathematicly or scientificly inclined student. (Saying that, I also realize that students don’t line up in such rigid categories.)
All in all, I recommend this book. I received it free of charge as a review book and am not obligated to endorse it. Mentoring or being mentored is more important than reading books about mentoring. But thankfully, we are seeing more and more books to help us wherever we and our churches are in this matter.