RadicalMentoring.com sets expectations high with testimonials like "God changed my life through this program" and "It saved my marriage!" Fortunately, pastors whose churches lack lay leadership (and cash) will find much value here. The site offers tools that, in the right hands, can be used to train a group of leaders committed to discipling others.
The Radical Mentoring program was developed in 2010 by Regi Campbell, an entrepreneur and elder at Andy Stanley's North Point Church in Alpharetta, Georgia. Campbell hopes to eliminate a strictly "one-on-one" view of mentoring. Instead, mentors meet monthly with discipleship groups for a year. Between meetings, mentees are given books to read, homework assignments to complete, and verses to memorize.
This program isn't for slackers. One lesson plan suggests, "If someone is late … force them to walk in and take their seat in silence. Let them feel the pain without … overtly embarrassing them." Radical Mentoring demands accountability. The idea is that if participants are held to a higher standard, they will rise to meet (and exceed) expectations.
The regimen may be intense, but mentors will find lesson planning surprisingly simple. The site offers suggestions on group formation and meeting preparation. Then mentors can choose from 25 lessons, each of which includes an introductory video and PDF download. Handouts are print-ready, and each lesson is already scheduled down to the minute.
You'll have to buy your own books (a new one each month). These books aren't supplemental; they make up the bulk of each lesson's content. It's a one-time investment if you buy a church set, but it does feel like opening a Christmas gift and reading, "Batteries not included."
Also, with major sections like "Fatherhood" and homework assignments that recommend increasing physical contact with your wife and kids, the program is designed for married males only. The site says they're working on a track for "single guys," but if you're hoping to mentor women in your congregation, you'll have to visit their sister site, Titus2MentoringWomen.com.—Kyle Rohane
Navigating The Space Between Legalism and Liberty
By Brett McCracken (Baker Books, 2013)
The Facts: "Christians have a hard time with nuance. Gray areas are not our strong suit." So says Brett McCracken in Gray Matters. McCracken has a point. When it comes to popular culture, we often struggle with balancing engagement and discernment. It is much easier to say "yes" or "no" to things and far less satisfactory to say "maybe" or "sometimes," even if those are wiser answers. This book explores four of the most complex, and divisive, categories of culture we consume: food, music, movies, and alcohol. It does not defend all culture nor categorically condemn it. The book seeks to help Christians learn how to be discerning consumers of culture so that we can truly appreciate God's creativity and glory in it.
The Slant: McCracken is a journalist, movie reviewer, and self-described foodie who travels widely. All this contributes to his keen sense of popular culture. And as someone who grew up in the church, he brings an insider's understanding of the Christian sub-culture. Gray Matters is an effort to close the divide between the two by equipping readers to think more carefully about culture while demonstrating greater sensitivity toward fellow believers. McCracken meticulously explores the divisive aspects of popular culture and strikes a balance between mindless acceptance and reactionary rejection. He asks readers to rest in the gray areas, no matter how uncomfortable it may be, for the sake of honoring God and loving each another.—Barnabas Piper