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Mentoring novice worship leaders is a crucial part of our work as experienced worship leaders. As you will see in this series of posts, education alone falls short in providing much-needed direction in the life and ministry of worship leaders. In these six posts, my friend Bobby Craig draws from his extensive research in this field as part of his doctoral project to help us understand the vast need and how we, as more seasoned worship leaders, can best fill the gap. If you missed the previous articles, check them out first.

Kenny

By Dr. Bobby Craig

There are two primary responsibilities in the process of mentoring. The first responsibility is that the mentor must be intentional about the process. Mentoring does not occur by accident. The mentor needs to know whom they are mentoring, why this person should be mentored, and in what specific areas this person needs mentoring.

The second responsibility lies with the protégé. There must be an attitude of acceptance of the process, a humility toward following the mentor’s leading, and a continual mindset of learning or absorbing as much as possible from the mentor.[1]

As both mentor and protégé accept their respective responsibilities, they must also accept the biblical mandate for the nature of the process of mentoring. The Great Commission from Matthew 28:18-20 contains Jesus’ final words to His disciples before His ascension into Heaven. Often shortened simply to “Go and make disciples,” the English translation loses the original Greek emphasis. By placing the weight on “go,” the emphasis in English becomes a command to stop whatever one is doing, go somewhere, do something, and disciples will be made as a natural result. However, the nuance of the Greek verbiage emphasizes “make,” yet not in the sense of a singular point-in-time occurrence. Instead, it is a present, active imperative verb. The original meaning is still a command, but in addition, it is an ongoing action in the present tense. This understanding now helps define Jesus’ intent of the Great Commission: “As you are going, as you live your life day-in and day-out, be always making disciples who are baptized and taught to obey my commands.”[2]

Another part of the misunderstanding of the Great Commission is “make disciples.” One part of becoming a disciple of Christ is undoubtedly a point-in-time occurrence, where the old has become new (2 Corinthians 5:17). This is where many halt in their following of Christ. However, Paul teaches that there is a second sense of the term “disciple,” where one is continually working out one’s salvation (Philippians 2:12-13) evidenced by the day-in and day-out following and obeying of Christ’s commands. This is where the process of mentoring takes place. Too many leaders stop intentionally relating to an individual once that individual has become a disciple in the first sense of the term. What is lacking is an emphasis on the second sense of the term.

There is significant biblical evidence of Jesus as the ultimate example of mentorship. He was intentional about those he chose to be his disciples.[3] Jesus modeled for the disciples how to be a mentor. He also taught the disciples to be mentors. 

Luke 6:12 shows that He prayed for the process. The biblical narrative often attributes high places like mountains to be both nearer to God and a place where spiritual activity or divine encounters occur. There are no indications as to what Jesus prayed as He went up the mountain in Luke 6:12. However, considering Jesus’ prayer for the disciples in John 17, while also bearing in mind the weight of the forthcoming calling of the disciples on the following day, it would not be much of a stretch to imagine that Jesus’ prayers that evening likely included prayer that His Father would guide Him to the disciples as well as prayer for their acceptance of the call. Likewise, because of Jesus’ example, it would be in the veteran worship leader’s best interests to pray significantly for guidance to the right protégés as well as to pray for their acceptance of the call to join the process.[4

Mark 3:13-15 shows that Jesus initiated the process. “Historically, disciples made the decision as to which master they would follow, but in Jesus’ case, it is the Master who chooses his disciples.”[5] Protégés do not become protégés by asking for an appointment as such. In a mentoring process based on the biblical principle of mentoring, they become protégés by invitation of the mentor. The full onus of the initiation of the mentor/protégé relationship rests on the mentor. Though the mentor must make the invitation with the full intention of implementing the mentor/protégé relationship, the protégé bears the weight of accepting the offer. Without the protégé’s acceptance, there is nothing the mentor can do to fulfill the role of a mentor.

Mark 6:7-13 shows that He gave a practical application of the process to the disciples. Indeed, Jesus lived the example, and that is enough. However, Jesus did not leave it to the disciples to figure out on their own how to live like Him. He spent a significant amount of time and energy training, teaching, and sending them to “go and do likewise” (Luke 10:37).[6] Do what likewise? Jesus showed and taught them how to be consistent in a daily walk with God, have a daily meeting with God in His Scriptures, pursue daily fellowship with other believers, and daily serve others on God’s behalf.[7]

John 13:15-17 shows that He charged His disciples to imitate His leadership style as they went out. Matt Thomas says, “Jesus’ plan involved a pattern of transforming the individual in order to transform the world.”[8] That plan, according to Thomas, is, “the combined effort of action and agenda purposing to intentionally influence others.”[9] In other words, it is some action performed as a result of an intentional agenda that was designed to influence others.

A major part of this intentional agenda should be infusing the call to mentor other worship leaders into every aspect of the process. Jesus didn’t stop at teaching His disciples what they needed to know, He charged them to go and teach those things to others with the implication that they should also go and teach others. To imitate Jesus’ process fully, as we are mentoring novice worship leaders, we must include a heavy dose of charging those protegés to mentor other worship leaders.

Therefore, worship leaders should not only take up the general call of Jesus to make disciples but must also—due to their distinct calling—intentionally mentor novice worship leaders. The veteran worship leader’s understanding of how to lead a worship ministry is invaluable to a novice worship leader’s effective impact on the kingdom of God through their present and future worship ministry. Not only must we veteran worship leaders take up this mantle, but there must also be a stronger emphasis on every front to teach, train, equip, and empower veteran worship leaders to teach, train, equip, and empower novice worship leaders.

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[1] Byron L. Spradlin, “Discipling Worship Leadership: Biblical and Theological Rationale for Discipling Worship Leaders” (DMin diss., Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, 2012), 97-98, https://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/ doctoral/542.

[2] Spradlin, “Discipling Worship Leadership,” 97-98.

[3] Ibid., 97.

[4] Matt Thomas, “The Indispensable Mark of Christian Leadership: Implications from Christ’s Methods of Leadership Development in Mark’s Gospel,” Perichoresis: The Theological Journal of Emanuel University 16, no. 3 (July 1, 2018): 112-113, accessed July 31, 2019, https://sciendo.com/article/10.2478/perc-2018-0019.

[5] Ibid., 110.

[6] Luke 10:37 (NLT).

[7] Spradlin, “Discipling Worship Leadership,” 98-99.

[8] Thomas, “The Indispensable Mark of Christian Leadership,” 110.

[9] Ibid., 108.

Dr. Bobby Craig

With nearly thirty years in worship ministry leadership in various churches throughout Alabama, Texas, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina, Bobby has experienced almost everything a church music ministry can throw at him. Not only does his vast experience provide support to his ministry, but he also holds a Bachelor of Music from Samford University in Birmingham, AL, a Master of Music from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, TX, and a Doctor of Worship Studies from Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA. Bobby currently lives in Moulton, AL with his wife, Heather, and three daughters, Evangeline, Eliza, and Melody.