Periodically, I ask pastors to give me a hand thinking through things, and I'm thinking through things again. Right now, I'm considering how to connect experienced Christians with inexperienced Christians for mentoring and discipleship. At the moment, churches barely do this and it happens by accident most of the time when it does actually happen.
For those of you who know me, and know that my passion is developing people (mentoring), then you know I'm not going to be satisfied with the status quo. So, here are my thoughts:
Inside the collective church exists two wasted assets. The first is youthfulness. We make young professional adults, all the way up into their 30s, figure life out on their own. This leads to unnecessary mistakes, some of them catastrophic. The second wasted asset, and perhaps the most important one, is that of the older generations. Let the world pass on the experiences that elders have, but let that not be what the church does. Those same mistakes made by those with youthful vigor could be avoided if the wisdom of the experienced were used. Regardless of what area of life the mistake is made in, most could be avoided or the consequences eased and dealt with if the inexperienced could seek the experienced.
That is where my business comes in to play. It is my desire to create a business that will connect inexperienced people with a pool of experience within the church in a variety of subjects. Let's say a recent MBA grad is just starting a new position at a company and needs some advice. He would come to the website, create a profile and list the area(s) he needs to be mentored in (in this case, it would be business). Then he might search the profiles of our experienced members and put some information on the message boards and find someone he thinks he could work with.
It would be my goal to sign every single Christian in America up for this service. As long as ads made enough money then ideally I'd never charge a membership as the goal is mentoring. I would need to be sure that ads and possibly affiliate sales would generate income in this situation as well in order to keep fees down. If I can somehow help others avoid problems and realize success through mentoring, then I've succeeded. If I can do it with a profit to me, then all the better.
Basically, what I think I'd need is a social networking-type website that allows the creation of profiles and lets people search those profiles out according to needs. Mentoring relationships can then be realized on their own, or with assistance (perhaps for a fee?).
I'd handle marketing mostly through my personal contacts at first, essentially as a favor initially, to help build a base of knowledge for the first few months, then I will make a plea for them to help expand to their social networks as well, particularly through those that blog and make extensive use of Facebook, Twitter, etc. The big push after that has run its course is to work through local churches. I'd start here in the Chicago-land area first, and then expand mostly in areas I know, like San Diego and Little Rock. Obviously, I would name the business and blog in order to build some SEO work and if money starts coming in, I'll run a few ad campaigns.
I understand that this may not work, or at least may not work fast. However, I believe the idea could work, and is actually needed, even if it takes a little while to get things moving.
In a nutshell, that is the plan. I have many ideas along these lines that can be shared in more detail, but this is the base line. Thoughts?