Faculty Mentor Competence: Setting the Course

June 12, 2023

by David Woolverton, Kairos Affiliate Professor, and Greg Henson, CEO, Kairos University; President, Sioux Falls Seminary


Globally networked. Locally connected. Contextually framed. Competency based. Jesus Centered. Kingdom focused. Mentor driven.

Every student who enrolls at Kairos University is joining a movement that is transforming theological education worldwide. It’s a movement that spans over sixty countries on six continents involving students from over seventy different Christian denominations. It’s a movement that involves an expanding global partnership of Jesus-centered, Kingdom-minded organizations and people that are committed to living out the one Great Commission.

Kairos is growing worldwide—rapidly. Yet, Kairos University is as local to each student as their own church, their own parachurch ministry, their own police station, their own firehouse, their own youth ministry, their own marketing agency, their own community, their own neighborhood. Each student’s context is the primary classroom within which their educational journey is developed, and their faith formation is shaped.

Each student’s journey of discipleship, therefore, is built around a mentor team that assists the student in customizing their unique context-driven, competency-based degree program. The mentor team is at the heart of what makes Kairos’s educational model unique, relevant, and successful.

In fact, mentoring is so central and essential to everything that we do, it’s our number one priority. That’s why we supply each mentor team with a trained, committed faculty mentor to guide each student and their mentor team throughout the student’s program. The faculty mentor is the main liaison between Kairos, the student, and our global network of resources and partners. Therefore, it is our primary goal to equip our faculty mentors with the tools, best practices, and creative and relevant skills to facilitate each student’s educational journey.

Today, we begin a series of seven blog posts that will look at both the “myths” related to the role of a faculty mentor, as well as what we’re calling the Indicators of Faculty Mentor Competence.

First, a little bit of background . . .

As a pioneer in competency-based theological education (CBTE), Kairos University is an active participant in many organizations that are interested in enhancing the practices that flow from this educational philosophy. For example, Kairos team members Susan Reese, David Williams, and Greg Henson serve on the steering committee for a community of practice within the Association of Theological Schools that is focused on CBTE. Larry Caldwell will join others from Kairos at a CBTE consultation hosted by the International Council for Evangelical Theological Education, and the university is a co-founder of Symporus, an organization that helps schools around the world develop and support CBTE programs.

As part of that work, members from the Kairos team often collaborate with staff and faculty from other schools. Sometimes that means serving as a conversation partner as another school thinks through an opportunity in front of them. Other times it means co-creating documents, workshops, and other materials that can be shared with the wider group of schools engaged in CBTE. Recently, many of those conversations have been focused on the work of faculty mentors. We have been blessed by several of those conversations and have had the opportunity to facilitate a few as well.

One such conversation took place in April of this year. Greg Henson partnered with Aaron Einfeld, Director of Lifelong Learning at Calvin Seminary, to facilitate a workshop with a group of faculty, administrators, and partners engaged in the Empower program at Calvin Seminary. Kairos has been blessed to be in conversation with Calvin since the school began thinking about CBTE a few years ago. The goal of this workshop was to cultivate a list of outcomes and indicators of proficiency for faculty mentors using experiences and insights gleaned from Kairos, Calvin, and several other schools engaged in the work of CBTE.

The result was a list of indicators we think are a helpful starting place for thinking about the work of faculty mentors. The list has already been shared with a number of other schools that provide opportunities for students to enroll in CBTE programs.

Over the next six weeks, we will be taking each of those indicators, along with their individual targets, and applying them to our context. We want you to see first-hand not only the importance of the faculty mentor role in the student’s education but also the level of competency that is built around the role. Next week, we’ll start with “de-myth-ologizing” the role of the faculty mentor. Stay tuned . . .

Kairos University’s faculty mentor equipping team includes David Williams, Susan Reese, Steve Trefz, and David Woolverton.

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