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Our aim in the Lightbearers Discipleship Communities is to connect students with Jesus, His people and His plan for the ends of the earth. Mentoring is an important ingredient in this process as the mentoring relationship provides a caring relationship but also a vision and a challenge. Our students can see the way faith plays out outside of a college context, and men and women further down the road in following Jesus can give strategic counsel, encouragement and rebuke to students during a pivotal year in their lives. Finally, our hope is that a mentorship relationship effectively connects a student to a local church, thus serving as the vehicle for the local church to disciple its younger members and as an “on ramp” for the student to become an active member of a church.

Time Commitment

We expect you to spend time with your student every 1-2 weeks (7-14 times per semester). Outside of this regular time, one of our staffers will communicate with you regarding their interaction with you throughout the year to provide coaching and receive feedback.

How do I get started?

We ask all mentors to begin their year with student by doing two things: 1. Studying a Lightbearers Bible study; and 2. Inviting the student to meet your family (as appropriate). Our goal for the Bible studies is threefold: 1. Introduce students to the value of Scripture; 2. Ensure that every student has heard the message of the Gospel; and 3. Allow mentors the chance to gauge the personal and spiritual maturity of the student. These Bible studies allow you to accomplish these goals, however, you are free to study these books in a manner that you feel is appropriate and true to the message of the text. Alternatively, if you have a standard discipleship plan in place that you want to take your student through, please let us know. Students enter the Lightbearers Discipleship Community at widely varying levels of maturity. Some students are excited about the prospect of meeting with a mentor while others enter a bit nervous and very quiet, having never done something like this before. Please use the conversation around Scripture to gain relational footing with the student and to ensure that the student grasps and believes the message of the Gospel. Our experience is that most students would “check the Christian box” but many students’ faith is either shallow or non-existent. In addition, we ask you to have the student meet your family (if you have family at home). It is valuable for them to see you “in real life,” and watch you interact with friends and family. Accomplishing these two goals will likely take a couple of months, and at that point, we encourage you to set a course of activity based on what your student needs. If you haven’t done so already, swap your stories of faith and life and then aim for a combination of serious, directed conversation and “as you go” discipleship. Keep reading for specific ideas.

What should we talk about?

The Gospel touches every area of life, so you can talk about any area, but focus on the things that would bring the student to maturity in Christ. In that vein, we’d ask you to at least check in with your student on things that often slip for college students:

  • Relationship with roommates, family, girlfriend/boyfriend
  • Ability and commitment to sharing their faith
  • Spiritual disciplines (Bible study, prayer, confession of sin, giving, service, etc.)
  • Ability to apply Scripture and keep in step with the Spirit
  • Victory in defeating sin and growth in the fruit of the Spirit
  • Biblical manhood (fighting passivity in life and lust) and womanhood (striving for contentment)

Keep in mind that we are after their hearts, not their actions, but the heart often does have fruit that we can see, so look for that. If you sense that a student is not a believer, state the Gospel clearly and appropriately. As appropriate, exhort them with the Gospel and confront them if they are in sin. The two great commandments are to love God and to love people, so see how they’re doing in those two areas. Ask lots of questions and do a great job of listening.

What should time with my student look like?

Aim for a combination of serious, directed conversation and “as you go” discipleship. Accordingly, some of your time should be spent on clear, intentional spiritually-influenced conversation. Here are some ideas:

  • Scripture (structured study and/or memorization)
  • The Lightbearers Institute (we can get you class notes if you’re interested)
  • Reading a book together (we have lots of ideas!)
  • Spiritual disciplines (prayer, fasting, giving, etc.)
  • Future goals, plans and accountability to those goals

We also have some assessments that you can use to help you determine where to focus your efforts with your students. We’ve designed this relationship to be organic, so identify the student’s needs and strengthen them there. In general, however, we’ve found it’s easier to start with structure and then vary the structure with spontaneity.

In addition, however, engage them in your life. Let them see what real life looks like for a believer. You may be surprised how powerful the conversation can be when you are doing things together like:

  • Fun activities—football game, gardening, running, concert, out to eat
  • Church involvement—worship on Sunday together
  • Time with your family
  • Normal activities—yard work, grocery shop, errands
  • Practical skills—budgeting, time management, studying for a test
  • Prayer walk
  • Pour into someone else together (e.g. build a friendship with a non-Christian) 

Finally, involve the student as you serve in your church and community. This models service as a way of life, puts the student’s focus on the advance of the Kingdom and allows for great discipleship conversation.

Should I be a friend or an authority?

Ideally, you’re a bit of both, so be a friendly authority. Avoid over-relating as well as staying aloof. Care about the student enough to enter into their world but recognize that they need someone who can give them perspective from outside of their situation.

How do I respond when a student shares something that seems to require counseling and confidentiality?

Many of our students battle thoughts, habits, and sins where professional counseling can be of great help, and they may share these battles with you. If they do, be thankful that they trust you enough to share honestly with you, but do not feel pressure to know all the answers. A good rule of thumb is, “If you feel over your head, you probably are.” To that end, please let us know if you feel “over your head” and we will come alongside you to best care for the student.

Please bring us into these conversations. We often tell students that we will communicate with their mentor regarding their personal and spiritual well-being. The Gospel assures us that our God is a God of hope, so have hope and pray fervently with and for your student. Allow us to join you in hope and prayer.

How do I best study a Lightbearers Bible study with my student?

The video on the sidebar clarifies that the Bible studies allow for a student to: 1) Read the text for themselves; 2) Talk with you about it; and 3) Read a commentary on it.

There are a variety of other helpful resources that can help you understand these Scriptures and help students learn as well. The websites and are two excellent places to do some research.

In addition, keep in mind that you are modeling for students how to study Scripture, so consider studying Scripture together using easily reproducible methods, such as:

  • Observation, Interpretation, Application (aka What?,So What? Now What?)
  • What do you see of God? Of man? Of Jesus? Of our response to this news?
  • Homiletics (5 words for each verse, 10 words for each small section, 15 word title for each complete section)

We can give you more information on any of these methods to study Scripture, but feel free to do your own as well. Let us know if you have a method that you feel has been especially helpful with students. We always want to learn!

What if I need help during the year?

Let us help you! We want to be behind the scenes supporting facilitating your mentoring relationship, so please let us know if there is anything you need that would make your time with your student more effective. If you have questions about Lightbearers, want ideas for topics to discuss with students, have concerns about your student that you want to share, please reach out to a Lightbearers staff.

Thank you so much for your investment in the life of a student. We trust that the Lord will bless you for investing your energy in his work of disciple making. Please let us know if you have any questions.

If I forget everything else, what should I remember?

We don’t want to overwhelm you with information, but want to make the mentoring relationship as smooth and as significant as possible. To that end, we would simply urge you to keep four things in mind:

  • Act intentionally
  • Speak Biblically
  • Aim holistically
  • Care deeply

We think that those four things display faithful ministry to a student, and if we can be faithful to water, the Lord will take care of the growth.

Thank you so much for your investment in the life of a student. We trust that the Lord will bless you for investing your energy in his work of disciple making. Please let us know if you have any questions.