Leaving Well–A guide for working with people in transition

Making the decision to leave a church family is a difficult process filled with conflicting emotions, some positive and some negative. Once once a person has made the decision, the key task is to leave well.

It is easy in these situations for a person to think that the best thing to do is make a quick and clean exit in order not to hurt others. In fact, the opposite is the case. Quick exits often complicate the pain felt by everyone. It is analogous to a ‘sudden unexpected death’.

Continue reading “Leaving Well–A guide for working with people in transition”

An Annual Spiritual Checklist

I adapted this about seven years ago from Patricia Hayes, an Alban Institute Consultant who I had the privilege of learning from in the USA.


Here are ten questions any person could use as an annual review of discipleship and ministry.

This has been prepared for use within a mentoring relationship.

  1. Prayer
    Describe your prayer life this year? Growing? Fading? Exciting? Faltering? Boring? What aspect of prayer could you explore to grow in your relationship with God?
  2. Learning
    What have you studied this year (formally or informally)? In what context did this happen (Preparation, research, interest)? What have you learned?  What learning is important for you in the coming year?
  3. Worship
    How has corporate and private worship been for you this year? Highs? Lows? Are you taking time to prepare or “just showing up”?
  4. Leadership Skills
    In what ways do you sense that your capacity to lead has grown, developed or increased? What have your learnt from observing the leadership of others? What are you learning about your own style, areas of growth?  What is your leadership challenge for this year?
  5. Community Building
    How are you connecting with and building your networks and sense of community? What formal links do you have (clubs, societies, groups)? Informal (occasional relationships, connections)? Does this need to grow or shrink this year and how will you manage this transition?
  6. Public or social action
    Where have you been publicly visible expressing your faith or commitments? What blocks you from action? How could you shape this area of life more effectively?
  7. Serving Others
    Where and in what relationships have you served God this year? Where do you sense God’s deepest and most significant work has been done through you?
  8. Sense of Growth
    What events or situations have caused personal growth this year; spiritually, emotionally, relationally? Describe your current growing edge?  Is there a challenge you need to face and are tempted to bypass?
  9. Balance
    Reflect on your sense of being balanced in life? Where are you too heavily committed? Where are you missing out? Do you keep Sabbath rhythms (a regular day off, retreats, holidays, recreation)? How are your stress levels overall? What small achievable adjustment would produce a more balanced life?
  10. Kingdom Fulfilment
    We all accept that there is room to grow into the fullness of the kingdom. Where do you sense you are called to focus in the coming year?

Adapted by Tim Dyer from an original list by Patricia Hayes, Alban Institute Consultant.

6 Classic Mentoring Questions for Pastors

These are six clusters of questions I often use in mentoring once a relationship of trust has formed.  Some are a little confrontational and should be used with care.  Note: I do not recommend mentoring like this within a relationship of structural authority.  Mentoring of this nature should be within a non-structured relationship.  I.e. the mentor is outside the organisation / church and not in a position of authority over the mentoree.  I do not use all of these questions in every session, that would be a bit heavy, however I keep them ‘up my sleeve’ for the right times.

  1. What have been the most significant events in your spiritual life in the last month?  In what areas are you currently seeking spiritual guidance?  What do you find yourself praying earnestly about?(Note: The movements of a leader’s spiritual life are critically important.  The ability to identify, share and reflect on these is vital in mentoring.)

  2. When was your last full day off and how did you spend it?  When is your next day off?  What plans do you have for the time?(Note: Working either too much without time off or alternatively being too slack is common for people in ministry who often have few external structures of accountability.  No days off correlates highly with burnout!)

  3. When was the last time you finished something well?  How did this come about?  What are the two most significant unfinished projects you have before you now?  What steps are you taking to work on these?  What is stopping you from completing them. (Note: Unfinished projects are a common cause of anxiety and stress.  Sometimes leaders need the chance to get an alternative view on them and find an alternative strategy for completion.)

  4. What expectations of yourself are you currently struggling to meet?  How would your wife / husband reflect on these?  Are they fair and reasonable? (Note: Expectations are also a common source of stress.  The ability to managing these realistically often comes through the chance to talk about them openly and honestly.)

  5. Share with me a pastoral or community relationship in which you feel uncomfortable, attracted sexually, manipulated, conflicted or sense ‘something is going on’ that is different to ‘normal’?(Note: While a challenging question, this is a critical area for pastors to be able to talk openly about.  Pastors are involved in significant interpersonal relationships which are emotionally and dynamically complex.  Attraction, manipulation and conflict can occur on either side of pastoral relationships for many reasons.  It is vital that pastors have someone with whom to talk about their feelings of ‘discomfort’.)

  6. If anything has the potential to take you out of ministry at this point what would this be?  What steps are you taking to understand and respond to this potential right now?  (Note: This is a question that raises all kinds of issues for discussion and catches some things the other questions do not.  It reveals the insight and understanding of the pastor) 

Pastor’s Mentoring Policy for Local Churches

SAMPLE Spiritual Mentoring Policy for our Pastor


One of the key indicators of spiritual and emotional health in leadership is the willingness to engage in a relationship of support, growth and accountability. It is the policy of this church that our pastor has a spiritual director, guide, mentor or supervisor while leading this community and meets with this person regularly. The purposes of spiritual mentoring are: Continue reading “Pastor’s Mentoring Policy for Local Churches”

There are many good reasons to seek a mentor… which are yours?

When I am exploring beginning a mentoring relationship, one of the resources I use is a sheet entitled ‘Reasons to be Mentored’.  I give this to my prospective mentoree and ask them to indicate which of these are most important to them.  This often helps both of us to clarify the expectations of the relationship. Continue reading “There are many good reasons to seek a mentor… which are yours?”