More about Mentoring and Mentored Relationships for Faith Formation Leaders

The Purpose: 

Effective and vital ministry in each faith community is directly related to effective leaders in various roles.  New Faith Formation practitioners often come to the role with gifts and skills but with a need to be supported in the beginning stages of journey into vocation.  We have asked, “Who are the midwives that birth and support vocations in faith formation? Who supports, encourages, accompanies these leaders?

At times, seasoned practitioners will want to hone skills, deepen capacities and engage in new ways of leading or be offered expanded responsibilities for leading.  There may be a time when they seek intentional accompaniment for discerning next steps in vocational development, incorporating new skills or practices or seek an intentional partner for a period of time for a variety of reasons.

The broad goal of mentoring leaders in faith formation is to guide these individuals as they seek to achieve coherent and cohesive vocational identity.


A Compelling Message:

In the small group conversation on leadership at the 2015 CT Conference Annual Meeting, the small group of 15 attendees balked when it got to the fourth question they were asked to discuss:  “What has most informed your understanding of leadership? What has been the most formative book, program, insight that has helped you gain a sense of what it means to be a leader today?”  One person piped up, “They left out the most important word:  Who?”  Everyone agreed heartily.  They felt the question should have read:  Who has most informed your understanding of leadership?  Who has been the person who has helped you gain a sense of what it means to be a leader today?  While a few could name important resources like books and programs, all could name people who had mentored them as leaders.

This speaks volumes about how leaders are developed.  It is in relationship to those ahead of us, beside us on the journey, those whose example teaches and inspires us that we grow into leaders ourselves.  Those mentors become the most important resource we have as we learn to utilize our own gifts to serve the community.

Mentors may appear in the natural course of our lives, yet, at times mentoring relationships need to be sought and nurtured intentionally. 


What is mentoring?

As suggested above, mentoring is a partnership by which one guides or accompanies another for a period of time for the purpose of personal or professional development.

Sometimes, there are elements of coaching, but a mentor is not a coach.  The goals for a season of mentoring are named by the individual seeking the mentor, oftentimes with the guidance of a supervisor or another leader who has helped the candidate to be mentored identify a desire or need to learn, stretch or grow personal and professional capacities and competencies. 

Who are the mentors? :

The mentors are those whose spiritual and emotional maturity contribute to their success as leaders personally and professionally and in relationship to others.  The following criteria is by no means an exhaustive list, nor is it meant to be a litmus test of any single mentor’s qualification.  Rather it is an opportunity to discern whether or not a potential mentor sees him/herself in the role of accompaniment to another, as a guide.

In addition to those named, the following criteria are useful for discerning one’s suitability:

  • Demonstrated leadership in faith formation
  • Organizational and Communication skills
  • Dependability
  • Compassion and understanding
  • Ability to listen effectively
  • Personal integrity and a positive attitude
  • Good boundaries and a well-formed understanding of keeping confidences
  • Understanding of cultural difference
  • Desire to build a positive relationship with one who is being mentored
  • Sense of humor
  • Flexibility and an ability to recommend alternatives and options
  • Ability to identify and affirm the gifts of others

Effective mentors are able to advise, challenge, share, invite, introduce and arrange.  They are able to monitor identified learning goals and leverage relationships.  Effective mentors will spend the time necessary to ensure a successful relationship.


Overview of the Program:

The program is overseen and administered by the Minister of Faith Formation and Leadership for The CT Conference, UCC.  All potential mentors and mentees are matched using the mentor’s profile, the stated goals of the mentee, geographic proximity, personal compatibility, and availability.

Once a match is made, a covenant is signed.  The financial arrangements are suggested and negotiable by the mentor with the local church.  The mentee’s supervisor and the mentor’s supervisor are agents within the covenant.

The mentor is provided with training and a handbook of tools to carry out the work.  The training includes content to guide mentors in successful engagement while avoiding possible pitfalls and tools for discerning each. Regular activity logs and occasional check-ins with all parties offer mentors and mentees support and clarity and the benefit of mutual accountability and responsibility within the relationship.

Potential Mentors will:

  • Complete a Mentor Application and Profile
  • Submit two letters of reference, one relevant to demonstrating professional competencies and one personal character reference.
  • Attend Training

Potential Mentees will:

  • Submit an Application for Mentoring that includes potential goals
  • Attend a Meeting for Discernment
  • Review the covenant and commitment criteria for mentoring

Additional information and tools will be shared once a ‘match’ is made and a covenant is signed to support all parties during the course of the process.