This past weekend, I represented Urban Youth Workers Institute (UYWI) co-leading workshops at Fresno City Summit 2016. There, church leaders gathered together to discuss and equip each other to better serve the unique and diverse community that is Fresno.
My co-presenter, Jose Rodriguez – Pastor & Founder of RESCUE A GENERATION, and I were asked to lead conversations around mentorship and discipleship of knucklehead teens and adults alike. The various questions asked, thoughts shared, and connections made, really drew me to thinking about the mission and vision of MYTHIRDPLACE, and I find myself falling in love with it all over again. As someone who has signed up to spend the rest of his life mentoring young people, I’d like to share some thoughts and reflections on what, how, and why we do what we do.
MYTHIRDPLACE’s mission is to cultivate environments for teens to grow in faith, develop character, and mature relationally through mentorship and discipleship. As we live out this mission everyday, I’m constantly reminded of what our role is, and what our role is not.
Think about this for a second… One cannot simply “create” steam. It’s not possible to snap our fingers and have steam appear. But what we CAN do is create an environment for steam to happen. If we take a pot, put water in it, put it on the stove, and light the burner, in due time, we’ll get steam. In a similar way, this is true of the impact we are working toward in the lives of the young people we work with and the communities they live in.
If it were possible to snap my fingers and see teens experience breakthrough and forsake their knucklehead ways, these past 11 years doing youth work would have made me a damn good snapper by now. The truth is, it’s a bit more complicated than this, but also much more simple than you might think.
At MYTHIRDPLACE, we create environments for breakthrough in teens’ lives to happen. We plan and develop programs, take space and outfit it for those programs, and stick knuckleheads in that space–but next to God’s hand on things, THE most important ingredient in the potion is our mentors.
Up in Fresno, time and time again, we emphasized the great need to make sure that we constantly have people in our lives holding us (yes, even us adults) accountable, and that we always have people in our lives whom we are holding accountable. At MYTHIRDPLACE our aim is to do that through two similar, yet distinctly different methods: Mentorship and Discipleship.
We distinguish the two by the following:
Discipleship | dis`ci´ple`ship | \di-ˈsī-pəl-,ship\; noun: 1 A relationship where one person is guided by another in their walk with God as they mature in faith to ultimately walk in the fullness of who God calls them to be.
It is understood that discipleship can only take place once someone has made a firm commitment to follow after Jesus. We recognize that many teens who walk through our doors will not have made this commitment, and some may never make this commitment. Even yet, we’ll continually love, serve, guide, and mentor all teens in the M3P Fam.
Mentorship | men-tor-‘ship | \’men-ˌtor, -tər-,ship\; noun: 1 A relationship where someone teaches or gives help and advice to a less experienced and often younger person.
I personally believe one of the greatest blessings we can experience is having others in our lives that are committed to providing us guidance and seeing us grow. An even greater blessing is making that commitment to someone else. We wanna’ see to it that every teen has a mentor and that every mentor has teens that they are pouring into and guiding. This is why, even though we have some dope programs and dope space that is being developed even further, our volunteer mentors are the critical pieces of the puzzle God uses to make it all possible.
Below you’ll find an M3P adapted version of a mentor pledge that has circulated throughout various youth worker networks. It helps paint a picture and more deeply describe aspects of what a mentor at MYTHIRDPLACE actually does. If you read this and think that you, yourself, wanna’ step into the role of becoming a mentor to some of our knucklehead teens, click here.
“A Mentor’s Hope”
I won’t make it about me.
I’ll listen to you with my heart as well as my ears.
I’ll use the benefit of my experience to guide you.
I’ll challenge you to find your talents.
I’ll help you recognize opportunity.
I’ll find the best in you.
I won’t judge you.
I won’t lie to you.
I won’t lie FOR you.
I’ll tell you when you’re messing up.
I’ll celebrate your victories.
I’ll accept nothing less than your best efforts.
I won’t do it for you.
I won’t accept excuses.
I’ll be someone you can count on.
I’ll pray for you.
I’ll walk life with you.
I’ll remind you that you are loved and created by God for a purpose.
I will NOT give up on you.