This Review Could Change a Generation

Recommended. A high-value kit that contains the tools to begin a community whose work will echo into eternity.

Fatherlessness is one of the largest crises facing America today.

Really, you might ask? A crisis?

I mean, I can understand it being a bad thing… but a crisis? Take a look:

  • 85% of all youth in prison or from fatherless homes. These are young people who could be treading the path of the Rebelution, using their teenage years to “do hard things.”
  • 63% of all youth suicides are from fatherless homes. These are image-bearing creations of God, whose creative potential over a natural lifetime will not benefit anyone.
  • 90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes.
  • Fatherless children are twice as likely to drop out of school. Once they drop-out, their chances for fulfilling careers are statistically shot.

Thankfully, Don Miller–author of Blue Like Jazz, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, and a variety of other compelling memoirs–saw this not only as a crisis, but as an opportunity. When he set out to write To Own a Dragon, a memoir about his experience growing up fatherless, he had hoped to provide people from similar backgrounds with a book that could help. But, as he was writing, Miller realized that this problem, being relational in nature, needed more than a book–it needed people.

But how do you address a crisis of such magnitude?

“If you wanted to solve the crisis of fatherless in America, you would need a building in every neighborhood across the country–because it’s that big of a problem. You would need an army of men to mentor the fatherless boys. So you’re talking about… perhaps billions of dollars in order to solve this problem. The only organization that is in America today that can actually do something about the crisis of fatherlessness is the church. We do have buildings in [nearly] every community in the country, and there is an army of men who are compassionate and caring but who also have a theological mandate to reach out to those who have been abandoned, because our theology would state that we were not designed to be rejected or abandoned; our fathers weren’t supposed to leave” (Don Miller, foreword to the Training DVD found in the toolkit).

And so was born The Mentoring Project, a non-profit that seeks to inspire, train, and resource churches to develop mentoring programs in their own communities. TMP has been active in and around its hometown of Portland, OR, for several years, but this past month it released a toolkit that equips Joe Blow layman to begin a mentoring community at his local church. The contents of the kit are as follows:

  • Promotional DVD (contains two highly compelling video clips perfect for piquing interest at corporate worship gatherings)
  • Training DVD (includes a foreword from Don Miller and then several segments of round-table discussions around the topics of Love, Model, and Coach.
  • Operations Manual (the comprehensive guide to starting a mentoring movement from scratch; developed for use by church leadership and the church-designated “contact person”)
  • 2 TMP Field Manuals (the training manuals that individual mentors receive, which include meaty content that follows the Training DVD, as well as pages of one-on-one and group mentoring activities)
  • 20 TMP Promotional Brochures (again, highly compelling material to hand out at church and help spread interest)
  • TMP Promotional Poster (ditto, but this one goes up in a high-traffic area at your church)
  • Fatherless Generation: Redeeming the Story by John Sowers, President of TMP (the perfect gift for anyone in your life who you think would be remotely interested in getting involved with the solution to the crisis of fatherlessness–of all the books I read and reviewed in 2010, this was my fave)
  • To Own a Dragon or Father Fiction by Donald Miller, Founder of TMP (again, a rocking gift for anyone and everyone in your life, period)

One aspect of reviewing this toolkit that made me excited was that TMP isn’t trying to be the super-hero organization that single-handedly resolves fatherlessness in America. They know what they’re good at: inspiring followers of Christ to address the crisis of fatherlessness, training them to mentor in a Christlike manner, and then offering these men up to matching agencies who already have lists of youths who need mentoring.

And indeed, they are good at this process, and they have effectively shared their expertise in the toolkit. I had no clue how to go about setting up a mentoring community at my church, but by the time I was finished perusing the Operations Manual, I could envision the steps that needed to be taken to go about making this a reality. I have recommended this resource to my pastor, and I hope that very soon a TMP Toolkit will be landing on the doorstep of my local church.


About davestuartjr
Dave Stuart Jr. is a full-time teacher who writes about becoming better, saner teachers at He is a follower of Jesus Christ, a husband to Crystal, and a father to Hadassah, Laura, and Marlena.

One Response to This Review Could Change a Generation

  1. Trevor Weber says:

    Thank you so much Dave for what you are doing and for advocating for the fatherless. Great review and we look forward to seeing what is to come!

    The Mentoring Project

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