In 2011, there was a statistic that greatly influenced the launch of Thrive. The average duration of a youth worker in a church position was just eighteen months. There is no way that we can make a difference on this kind of short-term commitment. Thrive wanted to make a difference and to see if we can do something to adjust this reality.
Mentoring has always been at the heart of Thrive, offering to meet up with a leader on a monthly basis to offer a listening ear, support and to help them grow in their leadership ability, as well as enabling them to grapple with the difficult challenges and issues they face.
Youth ministry can be a lonely place for a leader. You feel like you have one foot in the adult church and one foot in the youth. This can feel like you don’t actually belong in either. By offering mentoring, Thrive helps to remind leaders they are not alone; that we understand and love what they are doing. We want to help those who are leading youth ministry as a vocation as well as helping those who give their time to lead voluntarily. The reality is we need more people in both roles if we are to see the quality and resilience of our youth work improve.
A typical mentor meeting takes place in a local coffee shop. It’s important to meet away from the mentee’s church or place of work, as it enables them to speak more freely. It’s also a way that we can show we value them for what they do and buying a mentee a coffee is one of the ways we want to thank them for serving young people. We might talk about how things have been over the past month, where they have seen God at work and what has surprised them.
“Andy is a great listener and always remembers the details from session to session. He’s kept me focussed and helped me find new ways of working with my team.”
– a local youth worker
We will usually explore two or three key current issues before setting some goals or targets for the month ahead. Goal setting is important as it helps to measure development, but for some leaders, this is not what motivates them and so we make sure our mentoring style is adjusted for each leader. We often end by praying together and asking God to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine.