A Special Garden: Heart-To-Heart
Vickie Kraft and Gwynne Johnson
A most successful program we call “Heart-to-Heart” in our church assists in developing the important and supportive friendships between older women, “Seniors,” and younger women, “Juniors.” Because women uniquely understand women, have gone through similar experiences, and feel the same emotions, they can provide sympathetic listening and godly counsel and often defuse tense personal situations before they escalate into major crises.
Spiritually mature women provide a biblical perspective of life, with their sound working knowledge of the Scriptures and a solid track record of godly choices and conduct.
The experience, empathy, maturity, and spirituality of these women represent an enormously powerful reservoir of untapped, God-given resource from which the church can greatly benefit. Women need it; Scripture commands it. The Heart-to-Heart program taps this reservoir.
Because it is flexible, the Heart-to-Heart program can be initiated in any way that suits your church, consistent with its size and culture. Informal gatherings, such as coffees or brunches, can be used to kick off the program, enabling women to meet each other and quickly establish areas of common interest. The general women’s meetings, Sunday school classes and worship services can be used for recruiting participants. We provide each woman with a profile sheet to facilitate the matching process (see Appendix 6). For better success in matching, we attempt to pair women holding at least two interests or life issues in common.
Here are some guidelines we have found effective for the development of meaningful relationships.
* Make a one-year commitment to the relationship
* Contact each other once a week and meet at least once a month
* Pray for each other regularly
* Do things together (whether it be Bible study, shopping, learning a new skill, or just going to lunch; each set of partners is free to do what they want as long as they work on developing the relationship)
What Does It Look Like?
This ministry works. Some older women enjoy it so much that they meet with several younger women. Younger women love these friendships. They feel loved and have someone to call on for support and wisdom. As mentioned earlier, the isolation and loneliness women feel is not so much that communication between men and women has broken down, but rather that in our fast-paced society communication between women and women has broken down. Women need other women. Heart-to-Heart provides a vehicle to facilitate that contact.
This ministry serves primarily as a source of encouragement. It is not necessarily a formal discipleship program, nor an in-depth counseling service, but rather it is meaningful friendship for support, guidance, love, and encouragement. In addition, we ask the partners to pray with each other, for by prayer we truly begin to understand the heart of the other woman and we experience the presence of God in our developing relationships.
Approximately 50 percent of our young women came from broken homes; therefore, they seek role models from women who can provide hope and confidence that lifelong marriage is a realistic possibility. Others want encouragement and advice on how to live with purity and integrity in their single and/or professional lives. Many have come to know the Lord but were not reared in godly homes; thus they don’t know what it looks like to be a woman who lives to please God.
We also have women who move into our city and miss their former support system of older women. One twenty-five-year-old woman related how much she not only missed her mom but her mom’s friends and her friends’ moms. She described her observations and thoughts after attending our Women’s Ministries Program like this: “These are such women-women, and I am such a girl-woman! How will I ever attain the maturity I have seen in them?”
As you might anticipate, she was the first to sign up for Heart-to-Heart that year, and her new friendships provided special blessings.
Of course, we have mature and immature young women who simply enjoy the company and friendship of an older woman who shares a godly perspective and who lived a little longer. In fact, life experience represents the primary credentials we to our older, senior women. We emphasize the opportunity God gives them to vest what He has taught them throughout their lives into the lives of younger men. Experiences of joyful times as well as trials and heartaches where they discovered God real and sufficient represent the resources they offer another woman. Their practical knowledge gleaned from life experiences provides perspective and wisdom for a younger woman. Many have God-given nurturing qualities that have been wonderfully developed.
In the comfort of this nurturing relationship with an older woman, many young women find it easier or safer to share their fears and insecurities than with their peers. Furthermore, older women have a unique ability to comfort and encourage which younger women find to be special.
Win Couchman describes a mentoring relationship in this way.
On Christmas Eve, a deep San Francisco-style fog kept our car crawling blindly along the road. Suddenly another car pulled onto the road right ahead of us. Because we were now following a set of beautiful twin taillights, we could safely increase our speed from fifteen to twenty-five miles per hour. A mentor is someone farther on down the road from you, who is going where you want to go, and who is willing to give you some light to help you get there! 1
Older women have much to share. They become true friends to the younger women. Yet, happily, this relationship is a two-way street. The younger woman ministers to and cares for the older woman as well. The focus is to encourage one another to depend upon God, not upon the relationship. Therefore, the Bible, not just personal experiences, forms the standard and authority in the relationship.
The Heart-to-Heart program is simple to begin in a church of any size. Your older women may need your encouragement to accept the role of seniors, because generally they do not recognize the true value of their maturity and life experience. That life experience is their credential for this relationship. The Heart-to-Heart program becomes a source of healing, strength, and growth as the spiritually mature women give meaningful influence in the lives of other women.
As women’s unique needs are met by these godly role models, the families, the church, and the community will be blessed.
How to Start
The Heart-to-Heart Coordinator serves on the Women’s Ministries Board, and her primary function is to oversee the operation of the Heart-to-Heart ministry of Senior and junior partners. Her responsibilities are listed in the job descriptions of the Women’s Ministries Board in chapter 7.
Rather than the terms Senior and Junior, some churches use Naomi and Ruth and others use Elizabeth and Mary. Needed forms, guidelines, and examples to assist you in developing your own program are found in Appendix 6.
The coordinator needs the help of an assistant with whom to brainstorm and speak confidentially. These two women need to share in prayer and seek each other’s wisdom, especially when making matches. They use their knowledge of their women as well as the completed profile sheets to make the matches. If possible they should match women who share at least two interests or life situations in common, more if possible.
There should be an appropriate age span between the partners. Generally, women under thirty-five are Juniors, women between thirty-Five and forty-five are either, and women forty-Five and over are Seniors. Some women in their late twenties and thirties can become a Senior to a very young woman, and can also become a Junior to an older woman. Just be careful not to be too rigid about age guidelines. One year, for example, we had a twenty-one-year-old-who was still in college and had been married only two months-sign up. We were able to match her with a twenty-nine year old who had been married eight years, had a seven-year-old daughter, and who in terms of experience and spiritual maturity was able to minister to her new, younger friend. On the other hand, we matched a fifty-one-year-old woman, who was a new believer and who had just been married for the first time, with a godly seventy-year-old widow who had enjoyed a long and wonderful marriage.
The more you study the profiles of the interests, ages, personalities, and spiritual maturity of your women, the more effective your matches will be. Most important of all, pray! We never make a match unless we have peace about it. We have seen the Lord put women together for reasons that we could never have anticipated.
Once the match is made, the Senior partner initiates the first call to her Junior. After that, however, calling should be reciprocal.
THE STEERING COMMITTEE
Together the coordinator and her assistant develop a steering committee to assist in following up with the matched partners during the year to keep the program functioning well. The steering committee consists of trustworthy Junior and Senior women serving two-year terms. They each receive a list of matches. They are responsible to pray for those women and call them regularly. Juniors and Seniors are contacted alternately throughout the year; therefore, each woman is contacted bimonthly to assure that she and her partner are meeting and to affirm that the relationship is progressing well. The steering committee woman records the partner’s general comments in her card file.
We must be careful not to offend by treating women as though the partners are children, and we must use common sense. When calling, for example, it is helpful to have some information to convey, such as an upcoming church luncheon or tea that would be fun to attend with her partner. If you have seen the woman and she tells you about her relationship, there is no need to contact her again. But, in general, plan on calling the women on alternate months. Your calling provides key accountability for a successful Heart-to-Heart program, and it also helps your women feel special, cared for, and part of a larger whole of committed and growing women.
This ongoing contact allows small problems to be identified quickly and to enhance the effectiveness of the program. As I have spoken with those who have experienced difficulties in their Heart-to-Heart program, most often they have omitted this crucial element of oversight, and difficulties are not resolved quickly.
REFER SERIOUS PROBLEMS
Other more serious problems will be surfaced in these regular calls. At that point the committee member needs to discuss them with the Heart-to-Heart coordinator. She will know how to proceed from there. If the problem proves severe, the coordinator should seek help from her authority within the Women’s Ministry program.
The most common difficulty is that of over commitment. Often, when a match is not working well, inquiry by the committee person will find one of the partners is too busy. The committee person can give the partner a graceful out and remake the match.
The coordinator and assistant coordinator should call their steering committee members monthly to gain feedback on how the matches are progressing. The coordinator keeps a file of the profile sheets, brochures, and suggestions.
Heart-to-Heart Record Card
Here is an example of the follow-up record card used by our steering committee. As we mentioned, this follow-up supports the success of the program. It helps to jot down the comments and adjustments made to continually improve the way you are making matches.
Timing for Sign-ups
We have found September or October to be the optimum time for sign-ups for Heart-to-Heart, but certainly choose a month most convenient to your own situation. Women’s lives, especially those with school-age children, tend to operate on a school calendar. Plan to publicize and allow sign-ups for an entire month.
As much as possible try to limit making matches to within that sign-up time, rather than trying as we did at First, to match people all year long. You can make exceptions, but it complicates the program as it grows.
After completing the matches, hold a special event that will be enjoyable. That gathering will give each match a head start. Partners can be called and notified of the match prior to the event, or part of the event can consist of matching the pairs in creative ways. This event also provides an opportunity for giving suggestions for activities for the partners. At the end of this chapter are some training guidelines used one year at our opening event.
At Northwest Bible Church we have a kickoff dinner in October. The matches have already been made and the pairs meet for the first time. After the meal, there is a training session for the Seniors and the Juniors separately. The speakers give general guidelines for the relationship with suggestions for activities. Other churches have used an event such as a picnic to introduce the pairs.
In the spring we host a Heart-to-Heart tea. We have been delighted to discover the benefits of giving this tea. First, it provides another way for us to say “We love you” to
Our women through serving them. Second, it makes our women feel special and feminine, and it teaches them hospitality. Finally, it gives our women a nonthreatening event to invite friends who do not know Christ personally.
Some churches use an evening meal rather than a tea to acquaint the women with e program. During the program a speaker gives the scriptural and practical reasons r the mentor relationship. Profile sheets are ready for the women to use in signing up.
The fall kickoff event, the spring Heart-to-Heart tea, and even a special event at the end of the year give the mentor partners the sense that they are part of something bigger than just the two of them!
Fall Kickoff Event
1. Spend the month of September advertising
a. Make announcements and provide information and sign-up tables throughout the church
b. Place announcements in the church bulletins and newsletters
2. Host a sign-up coffee (or coffees) or a dinner
a. Give one on a Saturday to accommodate women working outside the home
b. Provide nametags, profile sheets, and Heart-to-Heart brochures
c. The coordinator or her assistant initiates a time of group sharing, during which the concept and commitment of Heart-to-Heart is presented; the coordinator should also encourage group interaction by presenting two or three self-revealing questions from which each chooses one to share with the group
d. Ascertain if any women present wish to be matched together
3. Pass the word along! Encourage partners to tell others how wonderful the program is and how God has used it to minister to them
The Heart-to-Heart Tea
The annual afternoon spring tea is an effective way to attract new Seniors and Juniors to the program. We schedule the tea for the first Friday of March at 2:00 P.M. and call it “Tea at Two.” This is a lovely opportunity to enjoy the fellowship of Women of all ages and to hear testimonies about the joy of the Heart-to-Heart relationship.
The timing allows women several months to consider what they have just heard and he better prepared to make a commitment in the next fall sign-up.
This event is arranged by the Heart-to-Heart committee, but it’s promoted through the Women’s Ministries Program and to the whole church, because it is a key means for recruiting participants. We invite all women who regularly attend our church. Reservations are necessary for proper planning. We also provide a nursery for children kindergarten age and younger.
This tea accomplishes several goals. First, it helps to publicize the Heart-to-Heart ministry in an unpressured atmosphere. We offer material, have a Senior share her testimony, and provide an occasion where younger and older women are together enjoying each other’s company. This is not a sign-up time! However, we find that many Seniors join the following fall after having had the summer months to think over all they heard and experienced at the tea.
Second, the tea provides a delightful atmosphere for partners to enjoy each other’s company. It also gives the committee a special opportunity to serve our women lovingly and graciously. When the women come, they feel part of a ministry that cares deeply about them. Furthermore, there is something wonderful about going to an event that is lovely and completely feminine. Our hope is that this time of fellowship and spiritual encouragement will enhance the joy of being a Christian woman.
During the tea we always have a guest speaker share her testimony, give a book review, or relate an experience of great spiritual growth and dependence upon God. There are certainly other topics of interest that could be covered. We are simply careful not to duplicate the style of our weekly Bible study. Our women have been deeply touched by these Heart-to-Heart teas, and several guests have trusted Christ as Savior.
Our women love the Heart-to-Heart tea and look forward to it each year. Yes, it does require time and detailed planning, but it is also fun! Be creative, read books on formal and informal teas, and involve your women. We were surprised to realize we were teaching many young women hospitality skills. We were also happy to see what a bonding experience working on such a project can be among women. Most of all, keep an attitude of loving service during all of your preparations and pray that all will be done for God’s glory.
The next few pages contain some detailed planning sheets used by one of our Heart-to-Heart coordinators who was very creative and gifted in detail; she even developed a minute-by-minute plan for the program. As you will see, she got great joy from serving in this position. You may glean some ideas from her enthusiasm. However, you certainly do not have to be so elaborate.
ROOM PREPARATIONS AND TABLE SETTINGS
* Round tables for guests
* Tables for coffee, tea, and food
* White tablecloths
* Table for nametags and informational materials
* Taping and sound system
* Floral arrangements or centerpieces
* Two silver services
* Two extra coffeepots for quick replenishing
* Two crystal or silver water pitchers
* Four white linen cloths for holding under pitchers
* Extra silver trays for food
* Several candelabra and long white candles
* China cups and plates
* Doilies, white and lacy
* Water glasses
* Spoons, forks
* Napkins, folded
* Two spoons or tongs for sugar
* Crystal or china dish for lemon slices
* Crystal bowl for mints
(Many of these items can be rented, if necessary)
* Food planning
* Name tags
* Heart-to-Heart information
* Senior testimony and speaker
* Tea server
* Coffee server
* Replenish tea and coffee
* Replenish food
* Bulletin announcements
* Group reminders or invitations
* Letter invitations to the matched partners
* Nursery arrangements
* Sunday school announcements
* Honorarium or gift for the speaker and the pianist
* Secure cleanup committee
Coffee, Tea, and Treats
* Gourmet coffee (e.g., Vanilla Praline)
* Gourmet tea (e.g., Passion Blend or fruit)
* Iced water with lemon slices and mint leaves
* Lemon slices (stuck with cloves in middle) for tea table
* Cream, really milk, for tea and coffee
* Sugar, lump or granulated, for tea and coffee
* Buttered mints on tea and coffee tables
Portions are small, dainty morsels
* Tea sandwiches-crusts always removed
* slivered ham
* slice of cucumber or watercress with herbed butter
* cream cheese with date nut bread
* Lemon pound cake
* Pear or apple cake
* Pumpkin nut bread or muffins
* Lemon thyme bread
* Milk and honey bread with honey butter
* Hot mini-muffins
* Sponge cake with a layer of strawberry jam and whipped cream
* Cream cakes
* Small cheesecakes with raspberries or kiwi on top
* Fruitcake squares
* Scones with preserves and whipped cream
* Cookies, wafers
* Petite madeleines
* Lemon squares
* Petits fours
* Fancy pastries
* Jam tarts
* Chocolate-covered strawberries or dried apricots
* Fresh fruit
10:30 Begin setting up, folding napkins, etc.
Food can be delivered until 1:30
1:30 Instruct servers
1:45 Bring out food and drinks
1:50 Be ready! Piano playing, ready to greet and serve for the early birds
2:00 1. Greet, give nametags, offer Heart-to-Heart book
2. Guide to food tables, plates with doilies
3. Guide to coffee (always on the side of the table closest to the entrance) or tea (always on the side of the table farthest from the entrance); spoons on drink tables
4. Guests find table and friends; each table has folded beautiful napkins, forks, and a floral centerpiece
2:35 Announce that guests have two more minutes before the program begins
2:37 Welcome warmly (chairman)
2:39 Senior testimony
2:42 Introduce speaker
2:43 Speaker begins
3:15 Speaker finishes
3:16 Chairman thanks the speaker and guests for coming; she invites the guests to return for more refreshments
3:30 Nursery closes, tea officially ends
3:50 Tea really ends; clean up
4:30 Go home and collapse!
Common Questions for Problem Solving as Matches Are Made
What if there are not enough older women in your church?
Until your church attracts more older women or until your women grow old, ask your spiritually mature women in their thirties to serve as Seniors. Then inform your unmatched Juniors that you will match them as soon as a Senior is available.
Also, plan to ask Seniors to take on more than one Junior. This works well. Some of our older women have as many as six Heart-to-Heart partners. However, it is important that you not give more than one Senior to a Junior.
In addition, only match women who regularly attend your church. You are not responsible to provide Seniors for young women visiting your Women’s Ministries Program from other churches.
What if there are a greater number of older women than younger?
Rejoice! Begin your program. The younger women of your church and community will be drawn like magnets to your older women. Emphasize the aspect of friendship to your younger women. Some churches have told us that their younger women were hesitant to respond because they mistakenly believed this to be an authoritative relationship.
What if only a handful of women are truly excited about this ministry?
Then start with a handful! As these relationships grow and develop, the joy and satisfaction will be gradually contagious. Continue to teach about the importance of intergenerational friendship.
How do we encourage our older women to respond? They seem fearful or insecure about their ability to minister to a younger woman.
First, ask Seniors in the program to call their friends in your church who are spiritually mature to tell them about the ministry and the need. Second, have Seniors publicly share about their experiences with younger women. Some older women feel intimidated because they think they must be an expert Bible teacher, intellectual genius, or spiritual giant to fill this role. But when they hear other women share, they can relate and realize how very much they too have to offer. Emphasize the life experience and friendship aspects of the relationship. Remind them of the value of their life experience.
What if a Senior signs up who is spiritually immature or emotionally needy? She would simply not be an appropriate role model.
First, pray and be kind, loving, and sensitive to her needs. Talk to her and ask her why she is interested in this program. Many times women will admit they would rather be a Junior, but because of their age, they signed up to be a Senior. Invite them to be Juniors. If this alternative doesn’t arise, keep talking. You might Find they are extremely busy. Suggest that they wait to avoid overcommitment; they can still minister to younger women through Bible study and church. If they are skilled in another area (choir, administrative) suggest they are truly more needed in that area at present. Ask God to help you find a kind and appropriate reason to suggest their not becoming a Senior. If none of these suggestions works, you may he in a situation where you have to say lovingly, “I think you are dealing with so much in your own life at this time that I believe it would be better to wait. In the meantime, how can we be of help to you?” Or, you might tell her that because she is such a new Christian, you believe it would be best for her to wait a couple of years before becoming a Senior. Then suggest other areas of ministry in which she could serve.
What if an extremely needy Junior signs up?
Again, pray first and then talk with her. Explain that she needs an older woman’s influence and example in her life. But also explain that Heart-to-Heart is not structured to meet the kind of time demand and/or the kind of counseling she needs to receive. Tell her you would like to help her find a ministry that would better meet her needs. Lay counseling or professional help might be appropriate. You may find von Live an older woman who considers her ministry helping those with deep troubles. Ask your leadership for help if you cannot find an alternative. We have a group of lay women whose skills have been sharpened through courses we offer in our electives. They are available to offer strong, wise support to women who need counsel to change their lifestyle and attitudes and actions, or who live in difficult, ongoing situations. Perhaps your pastor would work with you in developing a group such as this in your church.
How do we avoid problems of gossip?
Place continual emphasis on the teaching of Titus 2, not to be malicious gossips.
(Choose Seniors who have a reputation of confidentiality. Emphasize the responsibility and privilege of confidentiality when you speak with Juniors and Seniors at various meetings.
How do we make sure these relationships are strong, close, and growing?
You can’t. However, you can encourage, pray for, and remind the women to keep the relationships close and growing Moreover, the structure of calls and availability of committee women for input and encouragement does bring a level of accountability. But the relationship is in the hands of the Lord and of the Junior and Senior women who have made their commitments to each other. They are the ones truly responsible for their relationship.
Though some matches may not “take” in spite of your best efforts, do not be discouraged. The vast majority will prove to be a great blessing and well worth the energy you put into this work. Suggested
Questions for Getting Acquainted
* Tell me about your family (husband, children, etc.)
* Tell me about your activities (work, leisure, etc.)
* Tell me one interesting or unique thing about you
* Tell me about your Heart-to-Heart experiences (involvement, reason for signing up, etc.)
* Tell me one thing you would like to accomplish this year through Heart-to-Heart
Preparing to Meet
* Set a time to meet
* Make a list of your goals (in writing)
* Pray for your partner and ask God to open your hearts to one another
* Pray that the Holy Spirit would direct your relationship and that together you would glorify the Father
Goal Setting, Committing, and Praying
* Decide when and how often to get together
* Mutually commit to this schedule, valuing its importance
* Discuss your goals with one another
* Decide on the kind of study or activity you want to share
* Commit to pray for each other and your relationship regularly
* Choose the times to call each other and pray over the phone
Some Activities Others Have Enjoyed That You Can Try
* Do a Bible study
* Memorize a verse together
* Sew a quilt
* Go for a walk
* Attend a craft show
* Meet for pie and coffee
* Attend an event at church together
* Share a sack lunch
* Share your trials and triumphs
* Go to a play together
* Share your favorite recipes
* Go shopping
* Meet for yogurt
Recent Profile Sheet Comments
Here are some comments from profile sheets completed by the Seniors in answer to the question, What I am looking for in Heart-to-Heart?
* “Friendship and a chance to give back.”
* “I’d like to find a younger woman to build a friendship with, to love and encourage to walk closely with the Lord, pray with, and have fun with.”
* An opportunity to share my experiences (mistakes), strengths, and hopes with someone who wants it.
* “Someone to be a big sister to and share my life with.”
* “Would love to meet someone’s needs by sharing how faithful God has been in meeting all my needs in the business world and with three children and a husband.”
* “Sharing and accountability.”
* “Someone who needs or wants a friend who doesn’t feel fifty.
Below are some comments by Juniors in response to the same question.
* “An older friend who can encourage me, who has been there and can give me wisdom in some frustrating times when I feel life is out of control.”
* “A Christian Friend who knows what it feels like to be a mom at home.”
* “Someone I can go to for ideas and hints about family life.”
* “An older, more mature perspecti? ve on running a home and rai? sing a family.”
* “After moving seven times in fifteen years I need someone to share with. My mother died when I was twenty-one, so I treasure relationships with older women.”
* “Someone to confide in.”
* “Someone who can give me honest, mature, biblical insight and feedback.”
* “Seeing life from a different perspective-talking to someone who has experienced things I am currently experiencing.”
* “My mother lives a long way away, and 1 would like some nurturing, wisdom, and love by an older woman.
* “I have no relatives in this area and I often get homesick for my mother’s company.”
Feedback from the Program
Here is some feedback from both Senior and Junior partners who have already participated in Heart-to-Heart.
FROM THE SENIORS
“During these days of and ‘Bye’ it’s easy to have many acquaintances, but not so easy to develop friendships. Heart-to-Heart has given me the challenge to really get to know, enjoy, and love some of the younger women in my church; some I probably would never have known.”
“As an older woman, I have experienced joyful and not so joyful times as a wife, mother, and homemaker. I am able to encourage younger women in these areas from a Christian perspective. However, I gain as well as give. I enjoy the concern and love I’ve received, and love their youthful vitality, humor, and enthusiasm for life. It keeps me thinking younger.”
“I see my Heart-to-Heart role mainly as an encourager. My junior partners are so bright and capable! I just try to help them see their own abilities and worth.”
“I love opportunities to share because I always come out knowing more than when I began. The Lord seems to reveal truth in the midst of Heart-to-Heart sharing. Jesus’ command to love one another is uppermost in my walk, and I am hungry to form new relationships that go below the surface. I’ve learned that giving and receiving are never one-sided and that I need the Body. I look forward to being kept up-to-date by a younger person so I don’t get out of touch.”
“I want to be of help and encouragement to a young mother, to lend a listening and sympathetic ear, to share my experiences that might apply to her situation. I want to show her how God has been faithful and led me through every trial and met every need of my life.”
FROM THE JUNIORS
“I love talking to my senior! She is always nonjudgmental and gives a calm balance to my life. Her strong faith, evident in every situation, is an encouragement. She is a great role model.”
“By watching my senior partner demonstrate strength in the midst of tragedy, I learned great lessons about what it means to trust in God, to rest in God, and to know God.”
“I have been exceedingly blessed by the spiritual nurturing I have received from my senior partners. One has taught me how to be joyful regardless of circumstances. Another has modeled unselfish giving. My present partner has encouraged me beyond measure to keep time with my Lord and family at the forefront of my life. I so wish to be a godly woman, and I am grateful for their guidance, availability, and loving care.
The Ten Commandments of Mentoring
The stronger the bonding the more satisfying and fulfilling the friendship. This takes time, understanding, and lots of prayer. Good friendships last forever.
To help avoid disappointment, aims and expectations should be clearly expressed, negotiated, and agreed upon at the beginning of the mentoring relationship. It is helpful to have this in writing.
It is helpful to talk this over up front and to set some ground rules both for regular meeting times and for impromptu “get-togethers.” Be sensitive to time constraints. Once-a-week contact, face-to-face or by telephone, usually works best.
Mutual responsibility is an important mentoring dynamic, and you must plan for it. Agree together on how you will establish, monitor, and evaluate your growth process.
Special concerns or needs may surface in the course of building the friendship. Timing and procedure for resolving the challenges must be handled with mutual kindness, maturity, and respect. Honesty and openness are vital. Remember that your relationship is to be a warm and loving friendship, not a counseling service.
As the mentoring relationship deepens, sharing of personal matters increases. It is important to honor each partner’s personality, feelings, and level of confidentiality. A simple statement to each other requesting conversations be kept private can save much grief at a later date.
MENTORING LIFE CYCLES TIME FRAME
The Northwest Bible Church “Heart-to-Heart” mentoring ministry has a one-year commitment for each mentoring pair. Official assignments of new pairs will begin in September and end in May, although the expectation is that the bond of friendships already established will continue within the fellowship of believers.
From time to time the mentoring relationship should be evaluated for the purpose of redefinition or modification of expectations. Assessment of progress or problems is the primary purpose of the steering committee, whose goal is to assist and nurture each pair in the mentoring relationship.
Expectations should be realistic in order that dissatisfaction in mentoring not hamper the bonding. Real life situations have complexities, so feedback to one another will encourage down-to-earth hopes and goals.
Closure has to do with bringing a satisfactory end to a mentoring experience. What frequently happens in successful closure is an ongoing friendship that allows for occasional mentoring and future interweaving of lives. This is one of the most important of the ten commandments of mentoring.
Courtesy Northwest Bible Church, Dallas, Texas
HEART TO HEART
Is anyone there
Who would like to share
in my life as a mother and a wife?
Heart to Heart . .
Could we pray
or talk through my day
share in my joy and sorrow
today and tomorrow?
Heart to Heart . .
Would you give me your view
on what I should do
or lend me your ear
to hear my thought so dear?
Heart to Heart . . .
Oh, how I want to live for Jesus
and teach my family how He frees us.
Please show me how to walk in His way
o my life will he full of Him every day
Heart to Heart . . .
1. Win Couchman, “Cross-Generational Relationships,” lecture to Women for Christ, 1983 Winter Brea (tape available from Domain Communications, Wheaton, Illinois, 60187).
The above article, “A Special Garden: Heart-to-Heart” was written by Vickie Kraft and Gwynne Johnson. The article was excerpted from their book, Women Mentoring Women.
The material is copyrighted and should not be reprinted under any other name or author. However, this material may be freely used for personal study or research purposes.
This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”