When I was in the interview process at my current church (Forest Park), I told them that discipleship took place in various ways and there was no cookie cutter approach. Though we primarily do discipleship through small groups, I said that I believe there’s a place for mentoring and one-on-one discipleship.

In my new eBook Church Leadership 101 (which has now been downloaded over 5500 times by church leaders and pastors around the world), I have a chapter on mentoring. I talk about how at each church I’ve served, I had someone younger that I poured my life into and mentored. Usually guys around 20-22 years old. I also mentored a 15 year old kid when I was on staff at Bent Tree (who is now on full-time staff there).

I was recently inspired by Andy Stanley (he tends to do that) at the Catalyst Dallas Conference held at my old church, Bent Tree, in May. He gave a talk about “Do For One” – and the gist of it was to do for one what you wish you could do for all. There’s no way that Andy Stanley can personally minister to and help all 30,000 people at North Point, but he can do for one what he wishes he could do for everyone. It’s all about investing in a few (kind of like Jesus did).

So, I was already doing some of that in my current ministry through one-on-one discipleship (I meet once a week with a man my age in my church and we go through Experiencing God together. He wanted to learn more about the Bible and God in general, so I’m taking him through this Bible study, which I’ve been through numerous times) and I try my best to mentor my Student Pastor, who is 24 years old. (We do a one-on-one meeting once a week and I try to help him as he’s just starting out in ministry. I also suggest or give him books to read and am sending him to a youth ministry conference this Fall.)

But inspired by Andy Stanley’s talk, I came home and though I was planning to have a more relaxed Summer and crank things back up in the Fall, I felt led by God to start at new small group for those struggling with addiction in my church. These are women at my campus that I have had the pleasure of baptizing, but they were full blown addicts (alcoholics and sexual addicts) and are on a journey to recovery. We meet at my house on Monday nights and my wife and I co-lead the group together. We’re going through Rick Warren’s/Saddleback’s study Life’s Healing Choices written by John Baker.

It is a sacrifice and I have willingly given up my Monday nights to take these women through this study, which often lasts until late in the night. But I firmly believe I’m doing for a few what I wish I could do for my whole congregation. I’m investing in these struggling addicts and I believe I will see them fully recover and be clean, pure and sober in the future. My alcoholic in the group just got her 30 day chip at AA. I’m so proud of her.

Like Andy Stanley said, we are all busy as pastors and leaders and running an organization or church, but we should be able to point to someone and say, “I’m investing in them and by God’s grace, I’m going to help them.” So, I ask you: Who are you investing in? Can you do for one what you wish you could do for all?

Greg Atkinson

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