Reverse Mentoring

I remember the moment I realized I was old.

I was riding in the car with our Chinese exchange student talking about a Facebook post that I recently uploaded when all of a sudden from the back seat I hear Harry say, “Facebook is for old people. No one young uses it.”

That was it. That was the moment where I realized I was old and out of touch. I thought I was young! I mean I am only 34! But that moment started me on a journey of discovering and paying attention to the younger people around me. Asking them for their advice and feedback. Putting down Facebook and picking up Instagram.

As I was scrolling on the web I came across a phrase in some articles called Reverse Mentoring. And I said that’s it. That is what I was starting to do and needed to keep doing at a deeper level.

You have heard of mentoring and probably have been mentored and have mentored some younger people. When you are young, people tell you all the time that if you want to grow, if you want to get to the next level, you need to get a mentor – someone older, wiser, & seasoned in ministry. So for a season, I got a mentor and it was amazing.

However, reverse mentoring refers to an initiative in which older more experienced executives and leaders are paired and mentored by younger employees on topics such as technology, social media, & current trends.

If you want to see breakthrough in your youth ministry, start to incorporate reverse mentoring in your life and the lives of your team.

I realized that I needed to be mentored not just by someone older but someone younger as well.

People look at me and say, “Hey! We have someone young on our staff; she knows the current trends.” But guess what, I am not as young as they think I am! The only reason I know the current trends is because I make it a point to constantly surround myself with people in their teens and 20’s.

To see breakthrough in your ministry, I want to encourage you to develop a team of young people (by young I mean late teens and early 20’s) to mentor you in their culture and current trends.

Come with a list of questions about their culture: what they like, what they listen to, their hopes, their dreams, what draws them to attending certain events, what types are events are popular.

Let them mentor you in their world.

After you spend some initial time being mentored in their culture and world, have them start looking at your programs, your services, your media, and your décor. Ask them what they would change, what they like, what appeals to them, what is missing. Ask them what frustrates them about your programs and media communication.

Instead of asking, “Why don’t you come to our youth group?”  Ask, “If you would be drawn to going to a youth event, what type of event would it be? What would you want to do? What would draw you to attend a youth group?”

The great thing about reverse mentoring is that now, before you start new initiatives, programs, and advertisements, you can run it by them – Let them look at it. You can even begin to use them in the creation of materials, programs and events. And as an added bonus, as they begin to mentor you, you can begin to mentor them. It becomes a two way street!

Let’s get reversed mentored and grow younger together.