It's hard to learn a skill if you've never seen an experienced person do it.Instructions are great but watching a video on Youtube is better. Better yet, however, is having an experienced person—a mentor—walk alongside you, make suggestions, and give good feedback as you learn. If that is true of simpler tasks like pruning roses or learning tai chi, it is certainly true for learning the far more complex skills and attitudes needed in godly, fruitful church leaders.
The rapid growth of the church in China has resulted in a great need for leaders. Significant strides have been made in providing knowledge-rich, intense, training programs for large numbers of Christian leaders in relatively short periods of time. Out of that experience, it is being recognized that the needs of these leaders run deep and that long-term mentoring of individual leaders is essential for the on-going growth of the Chinese church. In the words of one experienced trainer, "China doesn't have a vacuum of trainings. We have a vacuum of mentoring."
Observing the positive experiences of some trainers who have built relationships with a small numbers of students, increasing numbers of organizations involved in leadership development, both in the church and among Christians in other professions and walks of life, are looking seriously at how they can facilitate effective mentoring and the raising up of indigenous mentors.
A key question being asked is, "What does mentoring look like in the Chinese context?" Hierarchical leadership structure, a bias toward knowledge-based training, and a general lack of trust in the culture are often mentioned as obstacles to healthy leadership development. Yet China does have a strong teacher-student tradition that lends itself to mentoring relationships. A few practitioners have undertaken scholarly research in this area; others, having reflected on their experiences over the years, are developing new practices that more adequately reflect the realities of the China situation.
We rejoice that much is being learned and put into practice. Yet, while fruitful mentoring is taking place in some parts of China, it is largely absent in other areas. We believe it is time to bring together those with mentoring experience, both local believers and expatriate workers, in order to learn from one another and build on the work that is already being done.
This week we will be meeting in Hong Kong with over 50 individuals who are involved in mentoring leaders in China. Some will be gathering early for a time of directed personal retreat aimed at strengthening their relationship with God and with each other. Beginning Wednesday evening there will be a highly interactive working consultation in which the participants will have ample opportunity to learn from one another. Because coaching is important to bridging the "being-doing" gap and is often a "game changer" in getting leaders to lead differently, the concept of coaching will be introduced as key to effective mentoring.
We trust this consultation is only the beginning. Pray with us for those meeting together this week and for lessons gleaned from this time to be compiled effectively and shared widely with others.
The ChinaSource Team
- Pray for the Walking with Leaders consultation taking place in Hong Kong this week.
- Ask God to prepare the heart of each participant for what He wants to do in them personally and corporately.
- Pray that a spirit of learning, blessing, encouragement and challenge will be present in the discussions.
- Pray for the facilitators of the small groups as they listen and draw out the things God has put on people's hearts.
- Pray that people attending would not just come to another event, but that they would meet God as they meet with each other.
Photo Credit: Gaylan Yeung
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