Now, some people are fortunate enough to be part of a church that already works out helping ministers learn how to live that way. However, many times our churches have not figured out a good way to develop life-invested leaders as an ongoing reality. That is where Phil Newton's The Mentoring Church comes in handy. Dr. Newton is the pastor of South Woods Baptist in Memphis, a church that I have known young ministers from. I say that to establish that what Newton writes about is not empty theory--he has walked down this road a good bit before writing about it.
On to the content: the first chapter shares the need, which most of us who pick this book up will already be aware of, but Newton explains and defines how the need should be addressed. The next three chapters deal with an extrapolation of the Biblical material regarding mentoring, looking at how and what Jesus did, followed with what we know of the early church and Paul's work in that vein.
From there, we go to a historical overview of the church's mentoring models across the years. Spread throughout are highlights of "dos" and "don'ts" drawn from them. Newton's approach is that we can learn from good and bad across the years.
The conclusion of the book looks at models currently in use by various churches. There is a definite effort here to identify models in keeping with the ecclesiology of modern evangelical-type churches. (None of his examples will help one become Pope, basically, because it won't really work in that strong of a hierarchy.) Each model is illustrated with examples and suggested ways to adapt it into a local church.
Now, the crux of the matter: I need this book. It is my deep desire to see the church I pastor become a launching ground for future ministers. If that is going to be the case, I need a guideline for to invest not only academically but relationally, and then a guide for the church to understand how they are the key.
This is the major point of Newton's book: how the congregation must be involved in mentoring. It is not merely a "pastors should train pastors" idea, but a "churches growing ministers" idea. In that vein, this is a great resource to extract a roadmap for the church.
I highly recommend The Mentoring Church.
(Note: I did receive a copy of this book for the review. I'll probably be buying a handful for my ministry team soon.)