Six Reasons Senior Pastors Should Lead a Mentoring Group

A Christianity Today article quoted leadership guru Peter Drucker as saying the four hardest jobs in America are, in no particular order…

  • President of the United States
  • University President
  • CEO of a Hospital
  • Senior Pastor

The article’s disclaimer questions whether Drucker actually said this, but based on my conversations with pastors, this idea isn’t far off. Senior Pastors feel the strain of navigating their various roles and responsibilities … communicator, team leader, counselor, hospital chaplain, program director.

So, there’s no way a Senior Pastor would lead a mentoring group, right? To answer this question, I consulted my friend Ronnie Cordrey, the Men’s Ministry Leader at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY. Ronnie was instrumental in launching Radical Mentoring at Southeast Christian, and he’s co-mentored two groups with their Senior Pastor, Kyle Idelman.

I asked Ronnie why he thinks it’s essential for Senior Pastors to mentor, and he shared the following six reasons…

1. It keeps the Senior Pastor connected to the outer rim of the church. The longer a Senior Pastor is at a church, the more he is naturally pulled to the center of the organization. But if the only voices the pastor hears are those of elders and senior-level leadership, it’s easy to lose relevance with the people the church is trying to reach.

2. It protects the Senior Pastor from 100% crisis management. The role of a Senior Pastor can be consumed with crisis management … praying for and dealing with people whose houses are on fire (i.e., marriage problems, addictions, etc.), which produces sporadic, “one-and-done discipling.”

3. It models “leading from the front.” When a Senior Pastor intentionally engages with a Radical Mentoring group, it removes the excuse from every potential mentor in their church. No more, “I’m too busy to invest in a mentoring group for a year.”

4. It makes a Senior Pastor easier to follow. Any Senior Pastor who engages in intentional disciple-making is easy to follow because he’s in the trenches … it gives him handlebars for saying and living out 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.”

5. A Senior Pastor’s sermons will improve. A Senior Pastor’s sermons will become better because he’ll see the struggles of those in his church, up close and personal. A super well-known Senior Pastor who finished co-leading his first Radical Mentoring group concluded, “I’ve been preaching the wrong sermons.”

6. It will increase the quality of the Senior Pastor’s ministry. Connecting him to men he can be real with will help remove him from the extreme isolation and loneliness this role can unintentionally produce. And in doing so, it will increase the quality and effectiveness of his life and ministry.

Ronnie also added, “Radical Mentoring is not the only solution to any of the above, but it is a powerful tool to help a Senior Pastor (and church elders for that matter) engage in intentional disciple-making. Kyle and I are growing as much as the men we’re discipling, which is part of the brilliance of the Radical Mentoring model … it produces mutual transformation. I can confidently say that a Senior Pastor who says yes to mentoring will be glad he did.”

And so you know it’s not unique to Kyle or Southeast, here is what three other Senior Pastors who said “yes” to mentoring reported about their experience:

“The day my group shared our stories was one the best days of my life – watching men demonstrate authenticity, and vulnerability, crying as they shared their real stories. After the fourth guy shared, I went back and shared more from my story! It is a new day for me personally and for my ministry.”  –Chad, The Church at LifePark

“As a Lead Pastor, I can declare: there is no single resource that has breathed life into our church and my soul more than Radical Mentoring.” –Brian, Crosspointe Church

“Radical Mentoring has kept me in contact with my members and grown me personally to more than a pastor but a friend and mentor to many of the men of our church.” –Hale, Park Avenue United Methodist Church

If you’re a Senior Pastor, will you consider leading a group? If you’re a pastor in another role or even a lay leader, will you consider inviting your Senior Pastor to co-mentor a group with you?

We’d love to help you explore how you and your church can launch a small group mentoring ministry. We’ve laid the whole process out for you at And the best part, our entire resource library, including our coaching and guidance, is available to you for free. Learn more here.

Posted on March 25, 2021

Kevin is the President of Radical Mentoring, a non-profit focused on encouraging and equipping churches and mentors to use Jesus-style relational mentoring to create environments for people to be real and develop authentic relationships.
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1 Comment

  • Thank you for the entry.

    In my previous career there was a leadership style called “management by walking around.” One of the things that would do for a leader was it made them visible and approachable. It allowed them to talk about nuts-and-bolts things in the minds of their people. It was difficult because the product wasn’t as measurable as administrative work.

    One thing I have come to realize in my ministry setting (there is no such thing as a senior pastor here – just me). By being a mentor the lay members are empowered to re-vision ministry. As stakeholders, as opposed to consumers, there is greater depth and intent in the Parish’s ministry. Put another way, every decision does not flow across my desk, even when it could. Which leads to a healthier, more Christ-focused and Christ-like body.