Who is someone in your life that you look up to because of the numerous ways they have shaped you and influenced your life?
It wasn't until college that I heard someone tell me that whenever I met someone who I looked up to and who could greatly influence my life, that I should have them become my mentor or find a way to work under them. I had heard the word mentor before but it always had a certain amount of formality attached to it that made me too intimidated to look into it more. The college I attended had a mentoring program for students and when one of my friends asked if I wanted to do check it out with her, I decided to try it. It was then that I realized I had already had numerous mentors throughout my life, but only informally. I also realized how much more I could have gotten from that relationship if I had set up regular mentoring meetings.
One of the ways that we can develop the intergenerational aspects of our churches is by encouraging mentoring relationships among members. Mentoring is a great way to involve people from every generation in a meaningful way and strengthen relationships within your church.
Mentoring relationships can work in many ways. Sometimes they are between an older person and a much younger person. Sometimes they are between a person and someone who is a few years ahead of them in life. Sometimes people decide to do a book study together and can each learns from the other person’s perspective. Sometimes people meet to talk about what is going on in their lives in order to have someone to process things with and someone to pray with.
Whatever the nature of the relationship, it is important to keep these things in mind:
- If your church is organizing the mentoring relationships, set clear expectations about who mentors are and what different types of mentoring relationships exist.
- Make sure that both parties understand that a key to mentoring relationship is reciprocity and mutuality. Both parties have something to offer the relationship and something to learn from the other person.
- A certain level of formality can be important to ensuring that both parties prioritize making time for mentoring meetings.
- It is important to provide certain materials to help assuage some of the awkwardness that can exist in the first few meetings. Materials can include suggested books to study, sample "get to know you" questions, or sample discussion topics.
- Provide an opportunity to evaluate the mentoring relationship at least once a year. This will also provide a great opportunity for both parties to reflect on areas of growth thanks to the other person and the relationship.
Do you have any other advice for developing great mentoring relationships? How has your church taken advantage of this great opportunity to build relationships and encourage intergenerational faith formation? Leave a comment below or tweet us at @crc_ffm.