Trinity North Uniting Church are running a Mentoring Program for its high school age members who attend the vibrant church in Greenwood.
Instead of attending the regular Sunday worship service at 9.00am, mentees between the ages of 11 to 17, are whisked away by their mentors to a nearby park or café for a chat. The first session in February 2018, saw seven mentors and mentees attending. The organiser of the Mentoring Program is former Kids Church Co-ordinator at Trinity North Uniting Church, Kylie Steed.Though the church has a regular Youth Group, Kylie and other church members felt something more needed to be done for the younger members to feel more connected to their local church.
“The idea came out of our Children and Youth Ministry team that we try a Mentoring Program. One of the aspects we wanted was a small group discussion on a Sunday morning during worship time,” said Kylie.
“The benefit of this program is our teenagers have someone else at the church who knows what they are up to. Someone other than their parents are having a conversation with them and are interested in them, and that makes such a big difference for a teenager,” said Kylie.
“We’re comfortable with mentors deciding on what works in a session,” said Kylie.
“We have a mentor with a teenage boy who loves sport and is quite active. They go to a local park to shoot hoops and talk at the same time. This works for them, compared to a mentor with a teenage girl, who prefers to sit at the park,” said Kylie.
Mentees are paired up with mentors they feel a rapport with or feel comfortable with. The match between Abbey and Mandy, is one of those perfect pairings. Fifteen year-old Abbey aspires to be a nurse, just like her mentor Mandy.
“It’s a fun way to connect with someone I aspire to be like. Mandy is young, she sings at church, and is a nurse which is the career path I’m interested in. I look forward to spending time with her, just getting to know her more,” said Abbey.
“I can ask her for advice and guidance regarding a nursing career and I’m hoping Mandy will share stories about her nursing.”
Tess, 12 says she liked talking to Sally, her mentor about ‘magical things’ like Disney, which makes her happy.
“I’m hoping to build a friendship with an adult, so instead of saying ‘this is my mum’s friend, Sal’ I can say ‘this is my friend,’” said Tess.
Mentors are a big part of the Mentoring Program.
“Our mentors are volunteers with a Working with Children card, who have committed to participate for a year. They are people who we know well and have been coming to our church for a number of years,” said Kylie.
Amanda, a mentor, loves spending time with Stella, 11, and sees it as a privilege to be her mentor.
“Oprah Winfrey said ‘a mentor allows you to see the hope inside yourself’. I see mentorship as servanthood – another awesome ministry we receive from our worshipping community at Greenwood,” said Amanda.
“It’s such a blessing for our kids to receive this from other adults in our church family.”
The big picture goal for the Mentoring Program is simple.
“I want our teenagers to feel like they have connected to our church, feel like they are an important person in church and that coming to church isn’t boring, as most teenagers would expect,” said Kylie.
If you would like to start a Mentoring Program in your church, contact Kylie at Kyliesteed@hotmail.com.
Top image: Mentor, Paul Kalkwarf (left) with his mentee, Jabob Howell.