Where are the Mentors?

By: Kathleen Braafladt
August 15, 2017

I have a nagging sense that whatever experiences I can currently provide in my congregational setting will fall short of what realistically will unfold in the next few decades in the church.

“Where are the mentors?”

This question is my constant companion as I navigate the unchartered waters of the next great emergence in the Christian church. As a pastor and mentor for young adults discerning their vocational call, I take seriously my task to provide experiences that will facilitate their ability to hear God’s call upon their lives. But I have a nagging sense that whatever experiences I can currently provide in my congregational setting will fall short of what realistically will unfold in the next few decades in the church.

“Where are the mentors for future leaders?”

I posed that question in a small group during the 2017 FTE Christian Leadership Forum. I was turned upside down by the response. “Perhaps what we need is an internship for pastors, mentored by young leaders,” someone replied.

That’s when I realized what is so inspiring about this annual gathering.

The Forum creates a space where I am being mentored by young, creative voices both inside and outside of the church! Here I find a sea of rich, diverse voices, passionate about healing the world and living out the kingdom’s values. Having lamented the current state of the institutional church, I’ll never forget a young leader who stood up in a session and said, “I want to run out into the streets of Atlanta and say, ‘Don’t worry, we are working on it.’”

One session, Living, Dying, and Leading Change, was about established and emerging systems of influence. I was given new eyes and a new vision for me and for my congregation’s role in providing resources and mentoring for emerging models of ministry.

“Where are the mentors?”

They are not only those from within the church who dare to imagine a different kind of future. They are also the executives of nonprofits and business leaders, experienced in coordinating resources, adapting to change, and taking risks. And, yes, I left the Forum feeling like there is a place for seasoned pastors who are skilled at inspiring generosity and trusted enough to lead others into a different future.

“Where are the mentors?”

I last saw them at the FTE Forum in Atlanta, but I’m beginning to understand they are everywhere in our communities, beyond the walls of my own church.

Mentors can be found in the least likely of places. We need all of them.

I am eager to lead change for good in ways that will enable my congregation to see an abundance of resources inside and outside the doors of our church. God has already placed possibilities and connections in each community that will promote our shared values of healing and liberation for the world.


Kathleen Braafladt is co-pastor of Messiah Lutheran Church in Vancouver, WA. She leads change for good by mentoring, offering pastoral internships, and growing new church plants in the Northwest.

Click here to read more insights from the 2017 Christian Leadership Forum.


Tags: Inspired Leaders, Thinking Out Loud


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