Mentoring Spiritual Orphans, Part II

The Anatomy of a Spiritual Orphan

The spiritual orphan began life as a newborn Christian probably in his early to mid teens. If he was lucky, then he had an opportunity to be quasi-mentored by a youth leader, who, depending on the size of the youth group, was probably too busy to truly disciple the youth. I don't mean to intentionally degrade youth ministry. I know at least two of my friends from the military who have been involved in youth ministry. Be that as it may, the church doesn't do a very good job of transitioning kids from youth groups to adulthood. I know it's true because of the sheer number of sailors I've met who “used to be” in youth groups.

If the transition from youth to adulthood was effective, then those who “used to be” in church would still be there. Unfortunately, this is often not the case. I personally believe the transition period should be from the 16-18 year time period. During that time, a mentor would be assigned from the church. I use the word assigned loosely. It would be better for the mentor to simply choose a protégé than for one to be assigned.

So now that the youth, who is now 18 and probably about five years old as far as spiritual age is concerned, is on his own, he is now left essentially to his own devices. Maybe he will get involved in Campus Crusade for Christ, or Baptist Student Union, or Navigators, or a local church. Who knows? Maybe he will barely make it through his studies while playing video games. That's an option too.

Then he'll get a job, having been orphaned at (spiritually speaking) a very young age. If he's unlucky, he might never have a mentor guide him. If he is lucky, then God brings along someone who will lead him into a measure of greatness. It's not all about luck, but until there are more mentors available, it might as well be.

I was a spiritual orphan for about 18 months after leaving High school. Then Jojo Vicencio, a senior chief in the Navy, took me under his wing and guided me on the USS Mobile Bay. I'll forever be indebted to him, and count him one of my greatest supporters to this day. I have had several mentors since those days on the Mighty Mobile Bay, but I will also be eternally grateful for EMCS. Thank you, Jojo.
Have you been a spiritual orphan? Have you been rescued? Please tell your story!


nhfan said...

I agree with all you say and even the sad portrait of the church mentoring programs or lack there of. We do have to take in the lure of the world and all it offers to a young man as part of the problem--a church can't mentor him who will not be mentored! I see so many young people get saved as a result of a young group/bus ministry then drop out when they get a car! Also, sadly even young people from Christian homes walk away from God at an early age; maybe parents who are not walking as close as they should? How we need to reach these young people!!! Churches need to do more but that involves staff, etc--in other words: US! The church is us. So happy you were mentored and are mentoring!

The Navy Christian said...

You and I are on the same page. It is true that one cannot mentor the one who does not want to follow. I don't think we'll actually get to them all. However, I do think that a little power will go a long way in saving many of them. My own track record in mentoring isn't spotless, despite years of doing it with several men. I have some who are doing well, like the guy who is studying to be a chaplain right now and the other who is working for the Navigators. Then I have some who are not even walking with the faith anymore. It's a mixed bag, yet we strive hard to find a way. The nice thing about mentoring is that it can (should) be possible to do without putting a strain on the church's budget, which is nice. After all, we are the church. If we in the pew do it of our own will, then it will cost very little.