The Mentoring Culture at Bloomingdale Church
Written by Christine M
At Bloomingdale Church in the western suburbs of Chicago, IL, The Mentoring Project continues to progress as many adults and adolescents get involved as mentors or mentees.
On March 3, 2012, the church’s youth ministry staff hosted a three hour mentor training session in an effort to expand the number of trained adults ready to be paired with an adolescent needing a mentor. Thirty adults attended the training.
Since launching The Mentoring Project in the spring of 2011 Daniel Riemenschneider, the High School Youth Pastor, continues to see the positive influence mentoring culture has on students and adults in the church. He explained, “Mentoring relationships are essential to effective spiritual formation of our young people.”
Additionally, the March 3rd training was the first time that Bloomingdale Church opened their branch of The Menoring Project to women wanting to mentor teen girls. A good percentage of the attendees on March 3rd were women. Riemenschneider shared that as The Mentoring Project experienced so many successful mentoring relationships among males, “We knew that it was essential to offer this opportunity to adolescent girls as well.”
In fact, one young lady in the youth group took it upon herself to ask Nancy, a member at the church, to begin mentoring her in the fall of 2011 before the girls’ branch of The Mentoring Project officially began.
Nancy was one of the women in attendance at the March 3rd training session, and she says she is excited to join what she has been doing with her mentee under the umbrella of The Mentoring Project. “I think it will be beneficial to have input from a group of people who are also mentoring, and it will be good to have some different ideas about things tried, both those that worked and those that are different,” she said.
In regards to the training session, Nancy said she found it informative and helpful. “The training wasn’t just information download; there were many opportunities to discuss ideas at your table and get many perspectives on the topic at hand,” she recalled.
Since the March training, the youth ministry staff has worked to better inform students about the opportunity they now have with so many trained mentors available in the church, and many students are responding.
Three more female students have requested mentors, and one, Katie, has been working with her new mentor for three weeks now. “I always have a fun time,” Katie said of her new mentoring relationship, “We talk about our weeks, and I just like having someone to talk to who is wise and has a lot more life experience than me.”
As some of the first mentoring relationships from Bloomingdale Church’s 2011 launch near the one year mark, leaders are encouraged by the deepening relationships and know that they are on to something that will last.
Dom has been mentoring Raymond since the spring of 2011. He said the way he knows the mentoring project is working is that, “now Raymond is mentoring me. He tells me what to do.”
>Dom and Raymond share a love of science and engineering, and have been able to work on many projects together around the church where Dom serves as a building and grounds volunteer.
“Yeah, like remember the time I told you that you were changing the smoke alarm wrong and then it went off and the fire department came?” Raymond joked with Dom.
“He put a picture of that on Facebook, Dom said.”
As they joke back and forth, it is obvious that they enjoy spending time together.
As relationships like this one gain investment over time and as more mentors and adolescents join The Mentoring Project, Bloomingdale Church hopes to make a dent in the national statistics showing that many teens lack intentional adult influence in their lives. “We strive for every adolescent connected to our church to have Godly adults who intentionally care about them and model Jesus,” says Riemenschneider, “Our plan to make The Mentoring Project sustainable is to build it into the fiber of our youth ministry and church. The Mentoring Project is not an afterthought to our programming, but rather a necessary component to what what we are doing week-to-week.”