Understanding the Role of the Mentor

Section II, For the Next Generation: The Urban Ministry Institute's Mentor Manual

dd colorado 2016 04 18 10.21.37 800As an entity devoted to equipping students who, for whatever reason, may not have a preferred academic or educational background, The Urban Ministry Institute strives to help ministers from the city succeed in their studies. Your ability to integrate our desire to equip leaders among the poor while, at the same time, challenge them to both intellectual and spiritual excellence, will represent on the critical challenges you will face as a satellite.

Mentors serve as an anchor in the facilitation process, helping the students to develop a biblical framework for their own theological exploration and/or denominational comments. As fellow students of Scripture, Mentors can give context and help students integrate their learning into the Story of God and their lives, aiding students as they grapple with the teachings of the faith while relating them to their own specific faith tradition. In many learning environments, it will often be the Mentor who makes all the difference in the training process for the students, as they strive to know, love, and live the story of God in their personal lives, their ministries, and in their lives in the church and community.

The Profile of a TUMI Mentor

The formal job description of a mentor is as follows: Mentors are responsible for implementing courses by encouraging and recording student attendance, assisting the students in understanding and working together on the curriculum, overseeing content presentations to the learning group, help students select appropriate ministry projects, tutoring students, and reporting students needs and progress to the Site Coordinator.

The informal reality is that each faculty member or mentor must serve as the students’ cheerleader and coach as well. It is of utmost importance that you encourage your students in their studies and work, affirming their call to ministry, and equipping them to fulfill that call. While we evaluate student performance and grade their assignments, the grades we issue ought never be the focus of our training. Regardless of grades, our students have been summoned by the Most High God to a particular task in their church or ministry. In everything, each faculty member and mentor must them of this call, work and the role God has for them to fulfill in the advancement of the Kingdom. “Success” must be defined in spiritual terms as well–their knowledge of Christ, their mastery of Scripture, their character, their ministry skills, and their testimony to others. (See pages 53 - 58 in your TUMI Mentor Manual for a full description of the Role, Profile, and Responsibilities of a TUMI Mentor.)

The Mentor and Cultural Contextualization

In our thinking, instructors contextualize the material for the students’ learning. It is their responsibility to ensure that the students comprehend the content of the materials, while, at the same time, discussing them in the framework of their theological and/or denominational diversity. We expect our teachers to teachers to teach, and for our students to learn. Teachers are responsible for giving context and helping students integrate their learning into the Story of God and their lives. We base our instruction on the Nicene Creed, and challenge instructors to help students grapple with the teachings of the faith while relating them to their own specific faith tradition.

Contextualization highlights key documents emphasizing the need for your mentors to be aware of the differences in both the cultures and faith traditions of their students, and how we can integrate in our training discussions the ethnic, cultural, and theological differences of the student body into our lesson analyses. The ability to contextualize materials and truth to faith and life represents on the foremost difficulties in all distance learning. How can take biblical content and make it applicable to people who are from a diversity of backgrounds and serve Christ in a variety of ministry settings? The Mentor and Cultural Contextualization focuses on the instructor’s responsibility to help students master lesson content while applying it specifically in their own unique cultural and ministry context (see pages 59 - 61 in your TUMI Mentor Manual for this document).

Our Pedagogical Approach to Lessons: Contact, Content, Connection

We divide our instruction into three integrated phases: Contact, Content, and Connection.  The Contact section introduces the students to the lesson content and captures their interest. The Content section presents the truth claims of the lesson and facilitates critical reflection upon them in light of Scripture, reason, tradition, and experience.  The Connection section helps students form new associations between truth and their lives (implications) and encourages them to dialogue regarding specific changes in their beliefs, attitudes, or actions that should occur as a result (applications). Please look at The Approach to Lessons: Contact, Content, Connection on pages 62 - 63 in your TUMI Mentor Manual to learn more about this method of training.

Literacy and Language Issues

Students qualify for investment because of the church’s entrustment and commission to leadership, not prior academic training and educational background. As a result, your students may differ broadly in academic background and performance. Some may not have completed high school, other may have earned college degrees.

Because we focus on equipping leaders “especially among the poor,” it is not uncommon for our students to have had little academic preparation, certainly less than afforded to more middle-class church leaders. Although oral skills are usually strong among any group of leaders, some of your students may struggle with low literacy or writing skills. The key to the student's success at your site will be your own understanding of the possible Literacy and Language Issues. Please familiarize yourself with these by referring to pages 64 - 67 in your TUMI Mentor Manual.

Reading Standards
As Mentor or Professor, it is imperative that you understand our philosophy related to reading assignments of required texts, and how they fit into the overall learning environment.  Read pages 68 - 69 in our TUMI Mentor Manual which explains this context, and can help you know how to view, employ, and evaluate the use of reading material in a course.

TUMI Course Credit and Accreditation

As a training center dedicated to honoring and glorifying God in all we do, TUMI is unashamedly committed to academic excellence and quality leadership education. Every resource and program represents our commitment to excellence and God-honoring leadership education that rivals the most rigorous and prestigious programs today. Nevertheless, we have deliberately chosen to remain non-accredited. Why? Read more . . .

Although we are not accredited, we do affiliate with the Association of Biblical Higher Education, a fine accrediting association of schools and seminaries. Furthermore, we also partner with some accredited liberal arts schools and seminaries where our faculty teach and offer courses. Also, select TUMI courses taken for credit can be transferred to an accredited seminary which recognizes them for graduate level credit.