What is a Mentoring Circle? It is simply a small group of learning leaders who share a common interest to connect with, encourage, learn from and multiply leaders for God’s glory. Participants agree to hold a video call together monthly for 2-3 hours for a period of 6 months. Each individual in a circle is mentored and encouraged to grow as a leader and serves as a mentor for the other leaders in the circle.
- Develop deeper relational connectedness of leaders
- Connect leaders on a more global basis to share wisdom and experience together
- Equip leaders in the most strategic areas of their felt leadership needs
- Utilize technology to quickly, easily and cheaply connect leaders across geographical boundaries
- Support the multiplication of leaders learning in communities
- Circle Size: A ‘circle’ is made up of 5-7 total members, where ideally 2 members are facilitating Elders and the remaining 3-5 members are leaders (or emerging leaders). Having 2 facilitating Elders provides additional perspective and input during discussions and allows for 1 Elder to backup the other if one cannot attend a particular monthly circle meeting.
- Who Forms a Circle? Circles can be formed by anyone at any time, and anyone can serve as a facilitator.
- When to Form a Circle? The ALLC encourages the formation of these circles at the annual ALLC Leadership Summit by introducing and explaining the purpose and approach of the circles, recruiting and training Elders on how to facilitate the circles, and providing a way to sign-up for a circle during the Summit.
- Duration of Circles: Circles agree to meet online once a month for a total of 6 months.
- Technology for Video Calls: Each group can choose which video calling technology they would like to use. Examples of video conferencing technologies include: Skype, Zoom, FaceTime (if everyone in the group uses an iPhone), GoogleHangouts, GoToMeeting, and BlueJeans. The ALLC prefers Zoom. Zoom is free for calls up to 40 minutes. At the end of 40 minutes the call will automatically end and everyone on the call will need to re-join the call by clicking on a link you send them in advance. The same link can be used over and over again, even after the 40 minutes are up.
- How to End a Circle: At the end of the 6-month cycle circles can decide if they want to continue meeting for another 6 months, split and invite others to join a new group, or disband (possibly to join a different circle).
- Focus/Topic of Circles: Each circle chooses a theme or focus area related to Christian leadership. That topic will be the main focus of the circle’s discussions and learning for its 6-month duration unless the group agrees to change or add a focus area. Suggested topics can be found by looking at the leadership competencies listed on the ALLC website at https://allc.asia/leadership-essentials/ or more specifically, by choosing one of the top 20 felt leadership needs according to the ALLC’s 2018 survey of leaders at https://allc.asia/2016-allc-book-your-top-10-leadership-needs/.
- Annual Convening of Circles: All groups are encouraged to reconvene at the yearly ALLC Leadership Summit for fellowship, reconnection, deeper bonding and evaluation of next steps.
- Annual Evaluation: At each year’s ALLC Leadership Summit we gather the previous year’s circle facilitators to debrief about, share experiences, evaluate and improve this program, as well as provide a brief mini-training to prepare new circle facilitators for the coming year.
- Choosing a Topic: Circle facilitators should choose the leadership topic they want to focus on PRIOR to their circle being formed to ensure that people have joined a circle that most interests them.
- Choosing Monthly Sub-Topics: Circle facilitators should identify 6 sub-topics or focus areas that relate to the general topic, so that each month the circle can focus in on one of those sub-topics. These sub-topics can be changed or modified by the circle members as the circle forms.
- Learning Materials/Resources: Facilitators have the option to identify a special book, article or other resource that s/he would like the group to refer to as part of the learning and discussions for any particular sub-topic – but using such reference materials as part of a circle is not required. Note: the ALLC’s website provides suggestions and resources for many leadership topics - https://allc.asia/resources/
- Changing Focus: If at any time during the 6-month duration of the circle group, the group agrees to add or change a sub-topic, they are free to do so.
- Forming a Circle: If possible, we recommend forming the circle during an event where people can meet each other face-to-face and hold their first initial meeting in person. Ideally, new circle groups can try to meet for 1-2 hours during the ALLC Summit to hold their first ‘get-to-know-you’ time.
- First Meeting: The first time a circle meets the members should spend time:
- getting to know each person
- re-confirming the purpose, focus area and monthly sub-topics of the group
- deciding on when they would like to hold their monthly on-line meetings
- choosing what video conferencing technology to use (i.e. Skype, Zoom, etc)
- agreeing to the general format or agenda for their online meetings
- exchanging contact details
- deciding on how to stay connected (using email, texting apps, social media, etc) throughout the next 6 months in supportive relationships
- Note: It is especially important that the circle members have enough time to get to know each other during the first meeting in order to establish a sufficient trust level and bond to feel comfortable sharing and learning with one another going forward.
- Meeting Length: We recommend that each monthly online circle meeting lasts approximately 2-3 hours, although this can be uniquely decided by each circle.
- Meeting Prep: Prior to each online circle meeting we recommend that each person in the group prepare themselves by thinking about, praying about, writing down, and emailing the circle group members their thoughts about the sub-topic for the next meeting:
- How does this sub-topic relate to my life and ministry? In what situations is it relevant to my life or work?
- What problems, opportunities, weaknesses or strengths do I personally have in relation to this sub-topic?
- What questions or problems would I like input or help with relating to this sub-topic?
- Notes: Ask someone to take notes about what is shared during the call and send those notes to everyone after the call.
Below are some suggestions about WHAT you could cover during a typical 2-3 hour online Mentoring Circle meeting as well as some helpful questions you can ask to get the conversations going. You are not expected to follow this structure or use these exact questions. They are simply here as a resource aid for facilitators.
- Introduce the Sub-Topic for the month (5-10 min)
- How are you all doing?
- Does anyone have any specific prayers requests that we could pray for now?
- How did you all do over the past month in continuing to work toward the goals you set in our last call?
- What are you going to continue to do to keep making progress on the goal you set?
- Over the past month, what was most helpful for you from this group? How could we help one another even more?
- Share Answers to Prep Questions - Allow each circle member to speak out their answers to the 'meeting prep' questions in the section above on "Approach to Facilitating Circles". (20-30 min)
- How does this sub-topic relate to your life and ministry? In what situations is it relevant to your life or work?
- What problems, opportunities, weaknesses or strengths do you personally have in relation to this sub-topic?
- What questions or problems would you like input or help with relating to this sub-topic?
- Choose Discussion Points - Ask the group to decide which of all the comments, questions, problems, and opportunities that were just shared does the group want to discuss during the rest of the call. In a given call there may only be time to have a robust group discussion about 3-5 of these ‘mini-topics’. (5 min)
- Now that we've heard everyone's situations in relation to our sub-topic for this month, which of those situations do you think we should start with?
- Of all the situations we just heard about, what should we pick as the top 3 or 4 to try to talk through today? And which one should we start with?
- Which if all of those situations would be the most beneficial to the group for us to talk about?
- Discuss Discussion Points - Discuss one of the ‘mini-topics’ at a time, giving everyone an opportunity to share thoughts, questions, insights, encouragement, experiences, advice, examples and resources that directly relate to the mini-topic. (20-30 min per item)
Questions for the person whose situation you are currently talking about:
- Tell us more about your situation/decision/problem/opportunity.
- What kind of things have you already tried to help you work through this?
- What are your biggest concerns about it at the moment?
- What do you feel you need the most help with?
- Who do you feel would be most helpful to involve or get help from?
- What actions do you intend to take to grow in this area?
- How can we be praying for you regarding this?
Questions for the Group for Their Input and Assistance:
- Who has been in a similar situation?
- Tell us about your similar situation and what you did.
- What did you learn from your similar experience?
- What advice would you give someone else who is in a similar situation?
- Who has a word of encouragement for this person?
- Who would like to pray for this person?
- ID Ongoing Coaching/Mentoring Needs - Ask who in the group would like more help, coaching or mentoring on this area (or any area of life and leadership) and identify someone in the group who would be willing to interact with those people 1-on-1 (via email or video calls) during the next month. (5-10 min)
- Is there a goal you'd like to set related to this?
- How might a coach or a mentor be able to help you with this?
- Is this something you would like ongoing coaching or mentoring on? If so, who would be a good person to do so?
- Who would like to continue to help this person in this area to work toward their goal? How will you two follow-up throughout the next month (or more)?
- Evaluate Call - At the end of the call, ask the group for feedback about how the discussion went and what the group could do differently in the next call to make the time more beneficial. (5 min)
- How did this call go?
- What was most helpful for you about this call?
- How could this call be even more helpful in the future? What could we do differently to make this call more helpful?
- Introduce Next Sub-Topic for the next month and remind people to prepare and email their answers to the preparation questions to the entire group prior to the next call. (2 min)
***Make sure to allow time to pray about each topic and for each person and their situation that is discussed.
The facilitators can suggest, offer, decide on and arrange the type and frequency of follow-up support throughout each month such as:
- Individual coaching (by the facilitator)
- 1-on-1 mentoring (by the facilitator)
- Peer coaching (by a fellow group member)
- Peer mentoring (by the fellow group members in groups of 2-3)
- On-demand email or texting interactions by participants to the group regarding questions, problems, opportunities, or concerns
- Setting up a Social Media group for the circle to interact
- Weekly email/text follow-up with the group with pre-planned follow-up questions such as:
- How are you doing?
- What is your goal related to this group for this month?
- How did you do with any action steps (related to that goal) you planned to take this past week?
- What additional action steps do you plan to take (related to that goal) for the coming week?
- What questions, problems, opportunities or situations would you like help, prayer, encouragement or input about from this group this week?
- What thoughts, prayers, encouragement or advice do you have for any of the other members of the group this week?
Build understanding. Ask these to uncover what is important:
- What challenges are you facing?
- What matters to you right now?
- What’s on your mind today?
- What opportunities are you seeing?
- What else?
Set direction. Ask these to shift focus from what’s wrong to what’s possible:
- What is the best possible outcome?
- What are you trying to achieve?
- What do you want to happen next?
- What does success look like?
- How will you know if you’ve succeeded?
- What goal would you like to set?
Shape options. Ask these to generate ideas for action:
- What have you tried?
- What options do you have?
- What else could you do?
- How possible is each option?
- On a scale from 1 to 10, how motivated are you to achieve this outcome? What might increase your motivation level to at least a 7?
- What is concerning you or holding you back from moving forward? How could you address some of those things?
- What is God saying to you about this?
Define next actions. Ask these to clarify what should happen next:
- What data/information do you need to make a decision?
- What actions will you take now?
- What are you taking away from this conversation, as a next step or new way of thinking?
- What support do you need? Where will you get it?
- How can I help?
Here are some suggestions on what basic elements to teach and challenge people with in order to help them go deeper in their learning and application to their lives:
- WHAT: Explain what the teaching/learning point is
- WHY: Explain why it is important
- HOW: Explain how the new learning task/skill is to be performed
- EXAMPLE: Share an example of how that learning task/skill works in real life
- TEST FOR UNDERSTANDING: Ask questions that require the students to explain their understanding of the learning point
- TEST FOR RELEVANCE: Ask questions that require the students to explain how this learning point might be helpful or important in their lives and/or unique situations
- APPLICATION: Challenge the students to apply the learning point to their own current situation in some way, share how they applied it and what the results were
JOINING A CIRCLE:
If you would like to join a Mentoring Circle, we highly encourage you to attend the next ALLC Leadership Summit and connect with a new circle there. You'll be able to meet your circle in person and get off to a great start.
If you are not able to attend the next ALLC Leadership Summit, click on the following link to express your interest and we will do our best to place you into one of the circles we form during the next ALLC Leadership Summit.
FACILITATING A CIRCLE:
If you'd like to volunteer to facilitate a Mentoring Circle, please click on the link below to fill out a brief form. We try to form new circles every January during the ALLC Leadership Summit, which we highly encourage you to attend. It is an excellent way to start a new Mentoring Circle as you can meet and interact with your group in person during the Summit. Depending on the demand, we may form new circles at other times of the year, as well.