- First, we are primarily around people our own age and life stage. What Sunday school class or small group do you attend? I would guess most of you are in an age/stage specific class, like a young married class (or a variation like married with children or newlyweds).
- Second, the “older” women lack confidence. When talking to the “older” women of our church I heard over and over again, “I don’t know enough to mentor!”
- Third, most women don’t have time for something new added to their to-do lists.
We don’t need to build more church programs, we need to build relationships. Churches spend hours creating mentoring ministries to help women do something that should be so simple. I know because my church has spent hours in the last few years recruiting, pairing, and encouraging what we call Heart to Heart mentoring pairs. But not every pair we’ve made has been successful.
What does make successful mentoring partnerships? The “organic” element. Instead of introducing two women who barely know each other and telling them they are now mentor partners, we should be encouraging relationships to develop naturally. Here are a few ways churches can encourage organic mentoring relationships:
- For women to mentor younger women, we need women to meet younger women! We need women at different life stages interacting with one another. Churches should encourage women to get to know each other through ministry projects and fellowship activities. Two women may meet and hit it off because they teach Vacation Bible School together. Or another pair may form when they work together to decorate the church for Christmas.The pastoral staff and ministry leaders can continually recruit new people for opportunities to serve so more people can meet and interact with each other.
- The older women need to know they have experience and knowledge that young women need! Susan Hunt writes, “If you are a Christian woman who is seeking to grow in the faith and to live obediently, then you are qualified for spiritual motherhood. No theological expert. No super saint. Just a woman willing to be obedient to the command to mother” (pgs 48-49 of Spiritual Mothering).
- Stop being cliquish! Sometimes the church doesn’t have any control over this area, but you can start with your group of friends. Whenever you get together, invite someone new. Not everyone in your group of friends has to be married with young children, or an empty nest couple. Draw your circle of friends a little wider to include new people.
Churches also need to encourage mentoring pairs to follow the Titus 2:3-5 pattern of encouraging women in their roles as wife, mother, and homemaker, but also as a disciple. Theology is not just for the pastoral staff! Have resources available in the church library, or post a recommended resource list on your church’s website and encourage the mentoring pairs to take the next step in their relationship by studying the Bible together.
How has your church encouraged mentoring relationships? Has your church been successful with paired mentoring partners or do they encourage organic mentoring relationships?
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