Every person in the certificate program completes a 10-month practicum with a mentor. Mentors are veterans in youth ministry who are interested in walking along side youth leaders, as they learn. IYM staff work with each participant to select a mentor. Mentoring pairs meet together 9 times in the 10-month period, either in person or through online video conferencing. They also experience a Forum on Youth Ministry together. In their conversations, they explore ministry practices and theological foundations for youth ministry in light of the certificate participant’s gifts and ministry. Mentors also serve as a resource for the ministry project.


We asked a mentor what she enjoys most about mentoring.

Mentoring allows me to take off my Sr. Pastor hat and be refreshed. We not only talk about best practices and new theological approaches to old problems, we also talk about our lives. It helps me as a Sr. Pastor to be talking with someone not in my own church, because it helps me remember that this is what ministry is all about. It’s an opportunity to go back to the big picture, and that benefits my own ministry greatly.


What is unique about mentoring someone in youth ministry?

I think that the Achilles tendon of most churches is thinking that youth ministry happens naturally and that the only qualification that you need to be a youth minister is to be young and fun. Many excellent training programs exist for Sr. Pastors, but we have neglected youth ministers. The personal expectations of a youth minister are often so unrealistic and yet we also don’t train them. They are held responsible for things that other staff members aren’t held to – for example, parental expectations for youth leaders can be very unreasonable. So, as I mentor youth leaders, I focus on being a voice of reason, perspective, and support that calls the youth leader back to the center of ministry, which is Jesus Christ.


We asked a Certificate participant what she gained from her mentor:

Every time I talk with my mentor I find so much hope!  She gives me a lot of optimism about the future and she helps me remember that I can do this – I can be a minister, a woman, a wife and a Mom! She also forces me to think outside of the box, not just about my church and ministry but also myself. I think that’s the true job of a mentor, to help me think about the focus of my life.