If you read the literature, you’ll quickly find that churches are supposed to be (or CAN be) a wide variety of things. Churches are supposed to be Purpose-Driven, Simple, Center, etc. But one thing that I had not seen before was the idea of a mentoring church. So Phil Newton’s book from Kregel Publications caught my eye.
What does the book contribute to the conversation about churches and mentorship?
Newton’s main thesis is that the best way to train up pastors is to “bring them into a mentoring relationship in a local church context” (33). Put another way, “the central theme of this book calls for leaders in the local church—pastors and elders—to train their protégés in the context of the local church” (139).
This is a welcome emphasis for me that I wholeheartedly agree with. As I wrote when I reviewed Mark Dever’s Discipling, “discipleship is a good thing wherever it occurs (if done well). However, it is a better thing when done in a context that reinforces it, gives it structure, and also benefits from it: the church.” Newton’s focus is specifically on the discipleship and training of future leaders of the church.
Wait a second, you might be saying. What about Bible colleges and seminaries? Newton includes them in his vision, but instead of them forming the primary environment for training of pastors they are partners in the task. “Seminaries and Bible colleges supplement in partnership with the local church, where the church may lack the capacity to offer a thorough theological education” (33).
The book is structured in four broad sections. Chapters 1 through 4 focus on laying out his argument and examining the biblical evidence for and examples of this approach. Chapters 5 through 7 look at examples of churches that mentored throughout church history. Chapter 8 focuses on the theology behind Newton’s approach, and chapters 9 through 15 focus on suggested models and templates for the pastor to use.
I found this book to be useful in content, gracious in tone, well-researched in methodology, and comprehensive in scope. There is a reason it won The Gospel Coalition’s 2017 Book Award in the “Ministry” category!
The Mentoring Church offers a persuasive argument and vision for a potential future for pastoral training.
5 stars out of 5
Phil A. Newton. The Mentoring Church. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2017. 230 pp. $18.99.
Thanks to Kregel Publications for the review copy, which I received for free in exchange for an impartial review!