BEST PRACTICE IN CHURCH
CASE STUDY – CHERRYHILLS COMMUNITY CHURCH ‘WOMEN OF INFLUENCE'
Written by Don Payne
Description of the Ministry
The Women of Influence mentoring ministry is under the oversight of the Cherry Hills Community Church Ministry by Women department. It is led by a team of four women—three volunteers and one staff person. This team makes all decisions regarding the ministry including direction, training, matching, and scheduling. The ministry currently has the following components:
A series of two mentoring coffees (Part one and Part Two) is held one or two times a year (fall and spring). All women interested in being in a mentoring relationship are required to attend one coffee series. During Part One, women meet each other, get acquainted, meet the mentoring team, receive general information about mentoring (what it is and what it is not), get their pictures taken, fill out a profile sheet, receive the book Becoming a Woman of Influence by Carol Kent, are introduced to the concepts in the book, learn the specifics of this program, ask questions, and decide how they want to be involved (mentor, mentee, both, not at all). Two days following Part One, the mentoring team meets for a full day of prayer and matching, during which all matches are created. The team must agree on any match before it is confirmed and makes decisions as to which, if any, women should not be matched at that time.
Two weeks following Part One, Part Two of the series is conducted. During Part Two, each matched woman is introduced to her new mentoring partner, goes through a “get acquainted” exercise with the new partner, receives training in basic communication skills and boundary issues that apply to this mentoring relationship, and begin the process of deciding the parameters of this new relationship. At the end of Part Two, each new pair has received the same training, has exchanged pertinent information, and has set the date, time, and location of their first meeting. Most pairs meet every other week; a few meet weekly. The frequency is determined by each pair’s schedules and other commitments.
Each pair is asked to meet for three months and then evaluate. If the relationship is progressing well (ie. the women are connecting well and accomplishing the goals they have established), then the pair is asked to continue meeting for one year. At the end of that year, the pair can continue or not, based on each pair’s stated goals. Most pairs meet well beyond one year. The mentoring team follows up with new pairs at one, three, and six months and is available to all women in mentoring relationships throughout the life of the relationship. Because of the counseling background of the staff member of the team, difficult relationship issues are referred to her.
During the life span of the mentoring relationships, different goals are achieved. Some pairs work on discipleship; some work on Bible study. Others meet for sharing and prayer, while still others talk about life issues and skills. All meet with the goal of growing deeper in Christ—becoming more mature in each woman’s faith walk.
History of the Ministry Development
In the year 2000, Ministry by Women saw a need for a formalized mentoring program and began the process of developing one. One key volunteer and one staff member synthesized information from mentoring books and programs across the country and created a program that fit the women and culture at Cherry Hills Community Church. From February of 2001 until February 2004, the mentoring leadership team recruited and trained women seeking to be mentors, then matched them with women seeking to be mentored. The matching was done by the staff member only, a method the team recognized could not be maintained over time. In 2003 and 2004, the team researched mentoring programs again and, after selecting and discarding different aspects of other methods, arrived at the format in use today. The two-coffee format and day of prayer and matching has been in effect from February 2004 until the present.
Lessons Learned Along the Way
The mentoring leadership team has learned some valuable lessons over the past ten years.
- Not every woman who expresses an interest in being in a mentoring relationship is serious about the commitment. The current program format allows those who are not serious to wait until the time is right for them.
- Because of the above, the team has deep faith that God’s timing is perfect. They do not get anxious about matching every woman.
- It is common for people to be unaware of their expectations for a mentoring relationship until they have begun one. The team continues to refine the Part One material to help applicants for mentoring more clearly identify what they are seeking.
- Even with the best information on the profile sheet and the most careful listening to God’s leading, some matches will not be successful. The team has discovered that God’s hand is present even in the matches that either end early or never really begin.
- It is vital to have a team approach to any mentoring program or ministry. Without a strong leadership team, the work of the ministry will become overwhelming.
- It is vital to be continually open to making changes in any program. The needs of the mentee population and the strengths of the mentor population evolve over time, making it necessary to be flexible with the program elements of the ministry. Constant feedback and evaluation should guide any changes.
Marcia L. Schultz
Assistant Pastor to Women
Cherry Hills Community Church
Highlands Ranch, Colorado