Part One of a Two part series on Mentoring.
Go forth and make disciples of all nations
Some say a life well-lived is all about the quality of relationships. Mentorship is one example of forming intentional relationships, and the women’s ministry at Valley Evangelical Church has implemented an international mentoring program called morementoring.org, founded by Nancy Lindgren.
It all started with a conversation at Jason’s Deli in West Des Moines in the fall of 2015 when several women from Valley Church who had already been praying together began dreaming of ministering in a meaningful way to younger women. That notion evolved into a mentoring ministry. Valerie Bantz, the mentoring coordinator, recalls the experience. “We felt called to minister to younger women. Then we got connected to MORE Mentoring with Lindgren who was creating mentoring resources and training and started a ministry at her church. She mentored us as we launched and we’re still using her training materials,” Bantz said. She and her team are always on the “year round” lookout for potential mentors, but the official “recruitment” period where “the ask” is made is mid-August through mid-September.
Sherri Anfinson has the role of mentor recruiter. She devotes hours to prayer, contacting potential mentors, and laying the opportunity before them and praying for proper matches. Right now, there are 29 pairings. “God always provides just the right number to fill our needs for the year. God is just so fun!” Anfinson said.
Nothing about this process is haphazard or random. Although extensive training is detailed on the website, it’s more about making a three-year commitment to show up, listen and pray twice a month. Mentors are not expected to give advice or solve problems, but to love, listen, encourage and pray. Yes, this is a prayer based mentoring ministry. Age doesn’t matter. “We look for mentors who are seasoned in their faith, members and involved attenders at Valley Church. We make the “ask” and let God prompt their hearts whether He wants them to serve as mentors. Often, the mentors don’t feel they have much to offer. We assure them that God can and will use them in a mighty way to impact their mentees. He will equip mentors and help them and they in turn will stretch, grow and be blessed,” Bantz said.
Why an intentional mentoring relationship? Lindgren firmly believes mentoring is a Biblical command. She cites “Go forth and make disciples of all nations,” Matthew 28:19, as the first example. Mentorship is a form of discipleship. The goal is to help mentees grow closer to Christ. Lindgren says the mentoring program builds community, provides encouragement and spiritual development.
Once a match is made, they are not left on their own. The leadership holds monthly meetings with mentors to check in and ask how it’s going and what adjustments are needed. Life happens, unexpected things come up, and either a mentee or mentor needs to drop out. It’s okay. Again, grace is given and adjustments are made.
We don’t grow in our faith and transform spiritually by accident. We were created to live out our faith in community. If you have a heart beat and pulse, you have needed encouragement and prayer in some aspect of your life, or you have felt compelled to give it to someone else. Sometimes mentoring happens naturally. I stumbled into it through the wife of a former pastor of mine about 20 years ago. I was going through a rough time and she was amazing with me. That was God’s grace. Generally, though, it must be intentional, and that’s why I believe so strongly in mentorship.
I was once a mentee within the Valley program and cannot stress enough how much it helped me. Someone from the children’s ministry reached out to all the moms who have kids in that program, and something within me leapt at the opportunity of meeting someone new. I responded and a few weeks later, I was face to face with my mentor. I learned much about prayer, and how she used prayer to guide her life. Our one on one time was filled with encouragement and connection because she did indeed listen, love, encourage and pray with me and for me.
The mentoring team waits, now, for God to bring forth more mentors in Valley. God is always on the move, everywhere, doing amazing things often without us even realizing it. Thank you, Valley Church, for choosing mentoring.org.
Part 2 of this series will cover a mentor/mentee pair at Valley and their experience.