VIRTUAL SPIRITUAL MENTORING
Have you given up mentoring because you can’t meet in person? This article will give ideas, tips and tools for navigating the new virtual “normal.“
Living through the COVID-19 environment has prompted more people to search for God with answers to their anxieties, as evidenced by numerous articles and discussions, which only increases the need for discipleship / spiritual mentoring. Don’t STOP spiritually mentoring at this time of crisis for many people, but use updated tools and methods to build relationships when it may not be practical or safe to engage in person.
God is NOT hindered by our Social Distancing, even when we think we are limited! He is at work, and people need you.
After we moved across the country, I spiritually mentored via phone when I could no longer meet in person. I am also mentoring a woman in another country by using our Discipleship App and internet calling.
Below are tips that are effective for virtual mentoring. God is not surprised by technology! We are blessed to live in a technological world that we can reach out via different mediums. There is no perfect, right way, as each situation is different, but here are some suggestions.
- Do not allow technology to be the focus and diminish the Holy Spirit’s role in both the mentee and mentor’s lives. Our God is big enough to capitalize on using technology.
- EXPECT glitches in the technology, since the enemy will cause all kinds of breakdowns to distract both of you from what He wants to do. (Another reason to be sure you pray before you begin!).
There may also be distractions from children or pets or unexpected guests who drop in.
What do you do? Start over; pray; end, if necessary; set up another time. Discern what God tells you.
- LISTEN carefully to each other. Listen not only for what is being SAID, but what is NOT being said. It is easier to put on a “mask” when you can’t see their body language. So it’s important to be perceptive, with the Holy Spirit guiding you, as to what is REALLY going on in their lives.
- While we suggest in-person mentoring sessions be about 90 minutes, it’s harder to go that long virtually, unless there is an unusual level of engagement. 60-75 minutes is a better time-frame. Be sure to set the expectation of how long at the beginning of each session, so everyone knows what to expect.
- While effective mentoring always involves using a facilitative style of asking questions and getting input from the mentee, be very aware of how much you are talking. Instead of trading off reading the scriptures (like we usually do in person), the mentee might read more because you have been doing a lot of talking! This also allows you time to seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance as to what to say next.
- VIDEO CHAT (Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, FaceBook Messenger, Google Duo, etc.)
You can video chat with each other (probably using a phone) – so you can see each other’s faces and expressions, while using either the printed material OR the DTI app on another device, such as a computer.
Be sure there is good lighting on your face, so they can see you. Preferably prop the phone where it shows you clearly and isn’t moving around. You can’t hold it steady in your hand for an hour! (Consider a selfie-ring light with tripod stand to both hold the phone and illuminate your face.)
Be aware of what’s behind you in the video and of background noises that might be distracting.
- ON PHONE (no video) with each person having the PRINTED material in front of them. (Or each person having the DTI App open on their phone or computer.)
I have effectively used FaceBook Messenger audio with the person in another country to call me (at an agreed-upon time), while we both have the DTI App open on our computers.
An additional tool is to view together the short video snippets in the DTI App. You can both watch, but you should mute your phone so you are listening to the mentee’s speakers. (Better yet: you but to avoid audio feedback, mute your phone so you are listening to the mentee’s speakers. (Better yet, watch it ahead of time, so you are not surprised, and then just listen). This is how I prepare for my sessions, as I continue to be reminded of the principles, allowing God to guide my preparation.
If you have not mentored before, I suggest you read the suggested guidelines detailed in the DTI Mentor Training (Lesson 2-3), as most of these guidelines apply to virtual mentoring, as well. Click here to go to Lesson 2-3 in the electronic app.
Click here to download the app to your mobile device.