The first time I heard “organic” used in the same sentence with “mentoring” in the church, I was curious and cautious. I wondered: Say what? How’s that working for you? How many women in your church connect “organically” into a mentoring relationship and how does the word “organic” apply in the church?
Synonyms for “organic” in Roget’s Super Thesaurus are: inherent, intrinsic, innate, native, natural—untouched by man. So using the term “organic” for mentoring implies that mentoring relationships will just happen naturally in the church with no outside help. Yet, when I do Woman to Woman Mentoring trainings on how to formally develop a mentoring ministry in your church and ask the audience how many see mentoring happening naturally in their churches—spiritually younger women asking spiritually older women to mentor them, or vice versa—they respond, negative.
What Does The Bible Say?
Perhaps a few mentoring relationships do develop “organically,” but the majority of women in churches do not naturally, or “organically,” live out Titus 2:3-5, where we are instructed as Christian women to:
Teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.
I am sure that Paul, the author of the Book of Titus, expected that women would naturally follow his admonition, and maybe they did in that day, but today, by their own admission, most women don’t have the desire, energy, interest, or feel they have the time to apply these Scriptures “organically.” Common concerns are thinking that they don’t know enough to mentor and fear of rejection.
My passion is to help women understand the biblical mandate in Titus 2:3-5 to mentor each other and to cultivate a culture of mentoring in our churches. But this takes work—for the women’s ministry director and the women she shepherds. In today’s culture, our inherent, intrinsic, innate, natural,—organic if you will—bent is to take care of our own needs and those of our immediate families.
Organic Takes Effort
Organic certainly has a place in gardening, and my husband and I have striven to eat organically produced foods since my first diagnosis of breast cancer twelve years ago. But “man” touches organic gardens; they don’t just happen naturally or innately. Organic produce takes time, energy, and effort to grow and cultivate without chemicals, and hence, the higher price in the market. Organic gardens don’t sprout up and grow inherently or intrinsically—they need an overseer, someone who plants the seeds, waters, weeds, watches over them to make sure bugs and weather don’t destroy, harvests, nurtures, and cares for the garden.
And here’s my point: so do mentoring relationships and mentoring ministries. Very few ministries take place organically in a church—the music ministry doesn’t organically come together Sunday morning to lead worship without practice, leading, and direction. Children’s programs don’t just spring up organically on Sunday morning without preparation, planning, and supervision. The pastor doesn’t get up in the pulpit and preach whatever organically comes to his mind that morning—he has put in research, energy, effort, planning and study time to prepare his message. People don’t organically become Christians—our natural or native selves are sinful and we must intentionally be born-again.
Rather than using the buzzword “organic,” I propose we think intentional. Intentionally cultivate Titus 2:3-5 in your church, and nurture One generation will commend your works to another, they will tell of your might acts” Psalm 145:4. Help the women learn how to share intentionally their life experiences and God’s faithfulness and help connect and nurture them in mentoring relationships. I guarantee the women in your churches will be “organically” blessed when you have an intentional mentoring ministry—as expressed in this email I received recently from a mentee:
About 15 years ago, I attended a Woman to Woman mentoring coffee at Saddleback Church and was matched into a mentoring relationship with Ellie Swain. I just wanted you to know what a blessing that was. I moved to Arizona, and Ellie moved to Arkansas, but we visit each other and talk on the phone nearly every week to encourage each other in our walk with Jesus.
Janet, you made a difference in our lives. Thank you!