Mentoring for Spiritual Growth

Sharing the journey of faith

Tony Horsfall

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One of the best introductions to mentoring I've read.
James Lawrence, Leadership Principal, CPAS


In recent years the ancient Christian practice of spiritual direction has become increasingly popular, as more and more people from every part of the Church seek to know God more deeply. Terms such as 'mentoring' and 'soul' or 'spiritual' friendship are also being used to describe the process of one person coming alongside another to help them grow as a disciple of Jesus.

This accessible book is an introduction to spiritual mentoring, for those exploring this aspect of discipleship or embarking on training for ministry as a mentor within their church. As an experienced spiritual mentor, Tony Horsfall uses the metaphor of a journey to explain what mentoring means, its benefits to all involved, and how to explore the call to mentor others. It will encourage you to prioritise your own spiritual growth, as well as consider whether God may be calling you to be a 'soul friend'.


One of the best introductions to mentoring I've read.
James Lawrence, Leadership Principal, CPAS

This book provides rich refreshment for the head and heart.
Faithworks Magazine

Author info

Tony Horsfall is a freelance trainer ( with a passion to help individuals deepen their relationship with God. He leads retreats and quiet days both in the UK and abroad and writes regularly for BRF's New Daylight notes. Among his other books are Working from a Place of Rest, Rhythms of Grace, and Servant Ministry.


A letter from a reader:

Dear Tony

I'm sure you get plenty of thank you emails. I simply wanted to add to them. Your books: Rhythms of Grace, Working from a Place of Rest, and Mentoring for Spiritual Growth are being used to redirect our ministry.

In August last year, after six years of running our smallholding in Cornwall as a place of prayer and recovery from addiction, mental illness... we came very close to burnout. God stepped in, through a number of friends and supporting churches, and put us on a sabbatical break. Friends in Birmingham, who had been to one of your seminars, suggested we read your books. It's now my second time reading through them and my wife and I can feel God calling us back to his vision for this place.

Thank you for helping us get back on track.

From Retreats 2009

Here is an introduction to spiritual direction, written by an evangelical Christian for evangelicals. Most discussions of 'direction' start with some diffidence about the term itself, and Tony Horsfall is no exception. He is aware that 'director' is also a 'suspicious' term in some circles, and settles on the term mentoring. But this is actually - as his first sentence concedes - 'a book about spiritual direction'. Horsfall has clearly experienced it, benefited from it, and practised it. Appreciating its value, he's keen to promote it 'in the evangelical and charismatic sections of the church'. So he takes pains to root it in Scripture, skims briefly over the breadth and depth of the Christian spiritual tradition, and quotes extensively from contemporary evangelical writers who have influenced him, many from a North American stable. So, for example, he reworks the traditional 'Three Ways' in models from three such writers. He writes accessibly and anecdotally (of himself and others) and makes full use of the image of 'journey' for chapter headings - 'The Scenic Route', 'Losing the Way', and 'Travelling by Night' give the flavour. He is an enthusiast for 'Group Travel' (small group direction), and his appendix on lectio assumes a group use of this. The appendices offer useful introductions to some prayer exercises. There is no mention of structured preparation or support for mentors/directors (such as training courses or supervision). This book could helpfully fulfil its description at the start of this review.

Reviewed by Peter Lippiett

From The Church Times - Summer 2009

Tony Horsfall's book looks at the philosophy behind spiritual direction, its place in scripture and history, what it means to be a spiritual director, and how we develop spiritual awareness. If you are already involved in spiritual direction, this book will be of only limited use to you. It is essentially an attempt to sell spiritual direction from scripture, and quoting Evangelicals.

Much time is spent, early on in the book, justifying spiritual direction from scripture, and quoting Evangelical leaders who approve of the practice. This non-Evangelical reviewer found these parts of the book slightly tedious; and the description of spiritual direction as "an enabling relationship which results in empowerment for the mentoree, specifically helping the person to access the multi-faceted grace of God for themselves" should give the reader some idea of the jargon that occasionally obscures the important points Horsfall makes.

The book gets better and better, however; and towards the end of the text his descriptions of small-group spiritual direction in churches, and the importance of retreats and away-days, are very good indeed. The exercises at the back of the book, although basic to anyone with much experience of spiritual direction, are well presented and explained.

It is a shame that, of 27 books named in the bibliography, only three - by Merton, Nouwen, and Leech - would be recognised in the wider Church as classics of the genre; but, then, this book is not aimed at the wider Church. Horsfall is making a play for the heart of the Evangelical constituency; and this book, aided by Rob Frost's foreword, must surely succeed in its aim.

reviewed by Robert Mackley

Reviewed on the CPAS Church Leadership Blog - June 2009

Tony Horsfall is clear that this book is about spiritual direction, and the focus throughout is on this practice. But there is so much good material here that it would be a pity if readership was limited to those solely interested in spiritual direction.

Each chapter offers a short, simple, sensitive reflection on an aspect of the mentoring relationship. These reflect the author's breadth of reading and personal experience as a spiritual director. Thus they offer great practical insight on 'how to mentor'.

Having read fairly extensively in this area, I think that this is among the best introductions to the subject that I have come across, characterised by a wonderful gentleness and freshness.

The book is well organised, beginning with helpful definitions. Tony then examines his subject biblically and historically, before going on to distinguish very helpfully between the qualities / skills /tools of a mentor. He also examines the mentoring process itself.

The chapter 'Road maps and guidebooks' outlines four ways of locating where someone might be in his or her 'development journey'.

Although I don't think I am particularly suited to being a spiritual director, I have still learned a great deal from this book on the 'ministry / leadership' aspects of mentoring.

Highly recommended.

Reviewed by James Lawrence

From: Presence: An International Journal of Spiritual Direction - September 2008

Mentoring for Spiritual Growth: Sharing the Journey of Faith is a book about spiritual direction. Though author Tony Horsfall prefers the term mentoring, spiritual direction or spiritual guidance is interchangeable in this context. The introduction defines spiritual mentoring uses lenses from a variety of people in their respective ministerial fields, addressing three key questions: "Who is involved (people)? What actually happens (process)? What is it for (purpose)?" (14). Horsfall shows how spiritual mentoring differs from pastoral care, discipling, coaching, teaching, and counseling. Key to the mentoring process is the relationship between the mentor and the person being mentored. Horsfall writes, "The Holy Spirit is the true Spiritual Mentor, and he is always with us, and always coming to our aid - but he often ministers to us through other people. Spiritual mentors are those who seek to cooperate with the Spirit in the process of coming alongside God's pilgrim people" (80-81).

Horsfall writes primarily for the "evangelical and charismatic sections of the church" (11) and then widens his audience to those seeking mentoring, church leaders reenvisioning ministry, students preparing for ministry, and friends meeting together in faith.

Mentoring for Spiritual Growth offers seekers and opportunity to understand the potential benefits of spiritual mentoring, the history of spiritual direction in the Bible and in the Christian church, and the qualities and skills to seek in a mentor. The experienced spiritual mentor can use the text as a mirror to revisit how spiritual mentoring is practiced. Every reader is reminded to look for God in the world, in daily life, in specific circumstances, and in other people.

A number of authors and important topics are introduced throughout the text. For example, discernment is often a key element of mentoring. Horsfall includes author Jeanette Bakke's outline of common elements for a discernment process and James Fowler's six stages of faith development, which address how we believe rather than what we believe, highlighting crisis and growth along the way. An important chapter about the spiritual dark night experience teaches that "God is actually paying us the greatest compliment when he allows the dark night to come upon us, because he is entrusting us with an experience not many could bear" (101). Horsfall addresses spiritual mentoring through small groups and outlines a clear facilitation process. He describes three types of small groups, using the work of Heather Webb: the story-centered group, the text-centered group, and the prayer-centered group. He emphasizes the importance of creating a safe space for people to share their lives.

Appendix A develops the five spiritual exercises that both the mentor and the mentee can use to recognize how God moves in daily life. Appendix B outlines and develops the method of lection divina, and Appendix C includes ethical guidelines for spiritual mentoring. The bibliography offers a helpful selection of books for further reading.

I recommend Mentoring for Spiritual Growth for everyone who offers spiritual direction, spiritual guidance, or, as Horsfall calls, it, spiritual mentoring.

Reviewed by Bobbie Bonk

From Faithworks Magazine - Summer 2008

Don't be misled. Being 140 pages short and describing itself as an introduction to spiritual mentoring, you might think this is basic stuff for newcomers. Not so! This book provides rich refreshment for the head and heart. Underpinned by the metaphor of journey (as you'd expect) and with a strong biblical backdrop, the author carefully examines mentoring from 14 different aspects including the philosophy behind it, the tools required and addressing the issue of when God seems absent.

The author's personal stories are sensitively woven in without being dominant; he also draws on sources both historic (Ignatius) and contemporary (Ortberg). Although lacking questions for reflection at the end of the chapters, which would have worked really well, there is plenty here to stimulate fruitful conversation. This book is for people experienced in mentoring as well as those exploring it for the first time; it is for leaders whether in a business, congregational or community context. It is also versatile enough to lend itself to use as a small group resource.

Reviewed by Chris Spriggs, Director of Lifespace.

Book details

  • ISBN: 9781841015620
  • Published: 25 June 2014
  • Status:
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 144
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