Back to the Basin: The MentorLink Story

As the 20th century drew to a close, countless mission agencies and ministries mobilized to saturate the globe with evangelism. God answered prayer! Hundreds of thousands of new churches were planted as the new century dawned.

But…capable leaders did not spring up magically. In many places the fruit of the church planters, new believers, stopped growing or withered away.

Many parts of the globe could tell a story like this: the Philippines saw 51,000 new churches planted in the 1990’s. However (and this is a big however), an official Filipino study found that of the churches that failed, 91% cited “lack of coaching/mentoring of the leader” as the cause. Jesus said exactly the same thing. “The harvest is plentiful…but the laborers are few.”

If you look for the roots of Mentorlink, you will find them in a mission phenomenon known as CoMission. In the early 1990’s, 84 mission agencies partnered together to answer the call to come to the former Soviet Union to teach Christian ethics and values in their educational institutions. Dr. Stacy Rinehart, then with The Navigators, led the team conducting training for the 1800 missionaries sent.

MentorLink International was birthed at the end of this time, in a strategic meeting of 13 leaders representing 12 different ministries. Nearly a hundred mission and ministry leaders contributed to MentorLink’s mission and approach. Everywhere the cry was the same: the Church needs leaders….leaders with passion, training, and character.

MentorLink International was formally founded as a ministry in January 2000 with a large anonymous financial gift. As the MLI staff began to tackle the issues of developing leaders for the burgeoning global church, we found the rift to be greater than anyone knew. Yes, there was a huge shortfall of leaders.

But even more disturbing was the model of leadership accepted as the pattern to follow. This fallen, human model has many forms:

  • the success and production emphasis of the western business professional
  • the centralized power boss in Russia
  • the distant “strong man” in China
  • the chief in Africa
  • the all-knowing guru in India
  • the dictator in Latin America

Whatever the form, the desired outcome is the same: power, control and success for the leader and his or her organization. The cost in crushed lives, dejected spirits and scarred testimony of the church is beyond quantifying.

Christ gave one holy model and it works in every culture! It’s the posture of a Servant bent over a basin, gently washing dirty feet. The desired outcome was the deliverance of people from the bondage of evil and into God’s Kingdom. This Servant was crushed, dejected and scarred for a testimony of God’s power to redeem through sacrificial love.

The only path from the human to the holy is following in the footsteps of Jesus. He set down His leadership philosophy simply:

You’ve observed how godless rulers throw their weight around, how quickly a little power goes to their heads. It’s not going to be that way with you. Whoever wants to be great must become a servant. Whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave. That is what the Son of Man has done: He came to serve, not be served—and then to give away his life in exchange for the many who are held hostage. (Matthew 20:25-28, The Message)

As the MLI staff meditated on this passage and ‘watched’ Jesus lead in the gospels and Acts, we saw that the timeless solution for the present problem was Jesus’ mentoring model:

  • Jesus’ method focused on character transformation through close mentoring relationships
  • Christ demonstrated it daily with his disciples and changed them from the inside-out
  • Apostles followed Jesus’ model – intentionally investing as freely in others as He had invested in them
  • Result: exponential growth in Kingdom leaders for an expanding Kingdom movement

This caused us to shift the focus of developing leaders from content and skills to character and Spirit. In His Word and life Jesus gave us a relational, character-transformation pattern which calls leaders to communicate from their heart and life, and to minister through transparency and honesty, embodying Christ-like values as they serve and lead.

This “inside-out” leadership development is summed up by our Transformational Goals:

  • Building God’s Kingdom
  • Living the Gospel of Grace
  • Leading as a Servant
  • Operating in Teamwork and Community
  • Accomplishing Intentional Multiplication

Returning to Jesus’ model has yielded results that can only be accounted for by God’s blessing! Even as the number of nations MentorLink reaches increases, our core staff remains small. Mentorlink is able to work through partnerships and existing networks within a country to develop the next generation of Christ-like leaders. Our role as a servant team is to equip these national and local brothers and sisters and release them into full Kingdom service among their people. Our long-term investment is in the lives of people not in buildings or an organization – just like Jesus.

God has honored this return to “the basin and towel.” A vision which began in a fellowship not much larger than Jesus’ original following is now beginning to touch all parts of the globe. It is our prayer that Mentorlink will play a significant role in developing leaders who lead like Jesus.

There is a critical shortage of Christ-like leaders today…

For over a decade, strategies focused on evangelism and church-planting have produced millions of new believers worldwide.

However, there was no parallel effort equipping shepherds for these new flocks. The result: a shortage of leaders increasing with each passing day. For example, in Medellin, Colombia there are thousands of Christian communities without Christ-like shepherds to lead them.

This is just one city in one country on one continent. The gap is global – and growing. The time is now to close it by focusing on leadership development built on the innovative and highly adaptable strategy of Jesus Himself.

MentorLink International has returned to Jesus’ way of developing leaders. Christ’s strategy was to multiply Himself in key leaders. In turn, they multiplied Christ-like leadership principles and practices within established networks wherever they went. The missionary teams led by Peter, Paul, Philip and Barnabas quickly raised up local shepherds who created leadership communities to shepherd their flocks. Then they reached out into the surrounding areas. The result: a leveraged movement which encompassed the Roman Empire in a very short time.

MentorLink’s strategy of partnerships and equip and release practices comes straight from Jesus Christ’s pattern. We are invited by key leaders to become a partner in networks already at work in countries or regions. In the context of Spirit-directed mentoring relationships, we impart transformational leadership development to known and respected leaders. This synergy moves quickly along relational lines through local leaders who mentor others. The final outcome is not only vibrant communities with Christ-like leaders but a renewed sense of mission to take the model to neighboring regions or nations.

Like it did in the days of Jesus and the apostles this leveraged ministry strategy is yielding exponential results in a very short time.

How can under-shepherds who have the heart of the Good Shepherd be grown? From the inside-out. We have seen a character-transformation model passed on in caring mentoring relationships foster the heart of Jesus in pastors. They live and lead like Jesus and catch the vision to multiply leaders in the way that Jesus did.

At MentorLink we are committed to a leadership process that includes:

  • Character Development and Life Transformation
  • Guidance in forming partnerships to further leadership development movements
  • High tech, high touch follow-up in establishing leadership communities

We have nations waiting for us to assist them in equipping Christ-like leaders for their young churches. To answer their call, we need your help!

Developing Leaders Around the World

  • Ministry in over 60 nations
  • Partnership with more than one hundred partner ministries, agencies, and groups
  • Endorsed by top national ministry leaders in many nations

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Leveraged Partnership

Our Intentional Strategy Of Exponential Growth Through Partnerships…

  • Focusing on key national leaders and groups minimizes cultural barriers
  • Leveraging through parterships with existing networks and like-minded ministries already in place maximizes impact
  • Making long-term investments in transforming the culuture of leadership in a nation creates momentum for a leadership development movement

MentorLink is distinctive

  • in its vision to develop leaders who lead like Jesus through mentoring relationships
  • in its five transformational values
  • as an organic global network with multiple delivery systems unified in vision and values
  • in its emphasis on character development through catalytic events, modeling, and intentional mentoring
  • as a “fellowship of the broken” who abide in Christ, exhibiting His humility, opennness, vulnerability, acceptance, forgiveness, honesty, loving accountability and grace