Friday, July 14, 2006

Women's Mentoring

Every couple of years, I hear a cry from young women wanting "mentors." It's always a little unclear exactly what they are looking for in a mentor-- whether they want traditional one-on-one discipleship, whether they want to learn or grow in a specific area, or whether they just want an older woman in their life. I think the latter is often the reason. Young women want to be in relationship with another woman who has been around the sun a few more times.

I had a great meeting with one of our NCC leaders earlier this week about launching a women's mentoring ministry. We love the idea of it and we even know what we want the end product to look like. But we aren't sure how to put the steps in place to make it happen. How do you engineer environments where women can connect in a way that is normal and not forced or artificial?

If you've got any ideas, feel free to email me or use the comment thread.

3 Comments:

At 6:05 PM, Blogger Allen Arnn said...

I lead the small groups/adult ministries area in our church. Our women periodically talk about a desire for mentoring too. Several years ago we had a mentoring program. Women were matched up with other women. Though I think they tried to do the matching somewhat intentionally, the result was still artificial relationships which didn't bond and the program fizzled.

Lately, our women have begun talking about it again. One thing I like to acknowledge is that mentoring is already happening in our church. I can name a few pairs of women and also men who are informally, unofficially, and naturally who are bonded in a mentoring relationship. However, we want to grow in this.

The direction we are headed is to have men and women who are passionate about growing a mentoring environment to brainstorm about how they can cast a vision for mentoring and possibly create a training class or maybe just a one page handout to help people who could be mentors actually make the leap to start mentoring someone. We're thinking of casting this vision in our small groups since the men or women who might want to initiate a mentoring relationship are likely already in small group together.

I'd rather see a vision for mentoring, inspiring examples of mentoring (maybe videos in a service), and some training/tools for mentors than having a big excel sheet where pairs of men or women are joined up, tracked, etc.

Then... just keep telling the stories of mentoring to continue building the mentoring environment.

Does this make sense? I'd love to hear what others think on this.

 
At 9:22 PM, Blogger heidiscanlon said...

I emailed Heather on this but I feel it's a little like the scripture that says "you can tell people the truth, but you can't make them love the truth." People have to want to be discipled and people have to want to be mentored. Otherwise any program will fizzle for sure. I have been in successful programs and have friends who are now in successful mentoring relationships at local churches. No doubt, even if it's coordinated some will drop out. But that can happen in any small group. I like Allen's vision casting idea.

 
At 8:32 PM, Blogger Elaine B said...

At our church our rough equivalent is "covenant groups." It's a group of 3-4 same gender people who are peer discipling each other rather than mentor-mentee relationships. It's voluntary and not always with older and younger women groups. But it works fairly well because there's a commitment that in the group, there will be safe and total transparency and aid and prayer for one another.
Women who desire a mentor tend to find someone older and get in a covenant group with them. Basically, the structure supports the desire. The beauty is that it's peer to peer (in name), so no one feels pressure to be a good mentor.
Having been at NCC for a while, I suspect that part of the hunger is simply due to the demographics of NCC; there aren't a lot of older married women around to remind us younger marrieds that we "can't be the Holy Spirit for our husbands," for example. What is the intentionality about who y'all are reaching? Is there any concern about balancing age groups (not that there necessarily should be, just wondering). Part of the beauty of a church can be the inter-generational friendships that can flourish. I know that I confided in my mother about being lonely in a choir made up of people older than me, and in response she began reaching out to the younger generation in her own choir! That sort of thing can be so powerful. In my own life, I am in covenant group with 2 women who have been married a LONG time, and I'm informally mentoring some young women still in the dating stage. It's powerful to be contributed to as you contribute, and I think that's probably something that the church is losing as Gen Xer's drift away or herd into churches composed of other gen xer's.
Umm, ok, sorry about the long digression there!

 

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