The Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry was birthed in 1995 when its founder, Janet Thompson, received a call from the Lord to “Feed My sheep.”
At the time, Janet was running an insurance agency and enrolled in Fuller Theological Seminary. She had been asking the Lord what He wanted her to do when she finished Seminary. Searching for the answer, she attended a Women in Ministry Leadership Conference in Portland Oregon where she heard, “Feed My sheep.”
When she asked, “What sheep? Where? And what would I feed them if I found them?” she again heard, “Feed My Sheep.” Janet said an obedient, “OK,” and then prayed for more direction. The Lord was gracious…the next morning the conference speaker spoke from the verses in John 21:15-17 where Jesus is saying to Peter, “If you love Me, feed My sheep.” The title of that session was Shepherding Women in Your Church.
Janet had been a member of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California since 1987, but she hadn’t been involved in the Women’s Ministry. She didn’t know any women in her church and had specifically told the Lord she didn’t want to work with women. She had not appreciated the way women treated each other in and out of the church. Surely the Lord had chosen the wrong person!
But within weeks of returning home from the Leadership Conference, she heard the first bleating sheep calls. Two women asked Janet to mentor them. One was a woman in her insurance field and the other was a friend of one of her daughters. Janet read Women Encouraging Women by Lucibel Van Atta (out-of-print) to learn about mentoring.
Deciding to give it a try, Janet began to mentor both of these women and determined that the ‘sheep’ were women and ‘feeding’ was mentoring.
Several months later, the Pastor to Young Adults at Saddleback mentioned to Janet that many of the young women in his groups were asking him were they could find a mentor. Janet reluctantly told him her “Feed My sheep” story and soon he and the Pastor to New Ministries encouraged her that it wasn’t just the two women that needed mentoring, but the women of Saddleback Church. They handed her Twelve Steps to Starting a Ministry at Saddleback and she began working through the steps.
Janet expected to go to a Christian bookstore and find a book on starting a Mentoring Ministry. What she found were numerous books on mentoring but none on how to start a Mentoring Ministry. So with much prayer and research, she developed and presented a plan to the pastors.
Her plan was to have potential mentees and mentors meet in a home for an Orientation Coffee. They would fill out profile cards, learn about mentoring, and share what brought them to the Coffee.
An intercessory Prayer Team would pray over the profile cards and match spiritually older women with spiritually younger women based on Titus 2:3-5.
Once matched, the M&M’S (Mentors and Mentees) would receive training and prayer follow up, and at the end of six months, they would return for a Celebration Potluck to share testimonies of God at work in their mentoring relationships.
THE FIRST SADDLEBACK WOMAN TO WOMAN MENTORING Orientation Coffee was held in Janet’s home in January 1996. As the ministry grew and churches began to hear about the success of Saddleback’s Woman to Woman Mentoring, they called Janet to find out how she was leading the ministry. God prompted Janet to write about the process in the Woman to Woman Mentoring: How to Start, Grow, and Maintain a Mentoring Ministry DVD Leader Kit (LifeWay).
Today, churches world-wide use this kit to start Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministries at their churches.
Order these valuable step-by-step resources to start your own
Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry.
What Is Mentoring?
One generation will commend your works to another.—Psalm 145:4
NUMEROUS VERSES IN THE OLD AND NEW TESTAMENT instruct one generation to teach and train the next generation. Titus 2:3-5 is the foundational verse for Woman to Woman Mentoring: “Likewise, 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 train 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.”
Janet paraphrases Titus 2:3-5: Mentoring is simply teaching what you’ve been taught so you can train the next generation.
You don’t have to be a Bible scholar or a senior citizen to be a mentor. If you love the Lord and have seen Him at work in your life, then God’s mandate is to share this with someone. It’s easy to become enveloped by the world’s call on our life and forget God’s instructions to invest in the next generation—they are the future of the church!
Mentoring God’s Way
JANET AUTHORED the Face-To-Face Bible Study Series (New Hope Publishers) to help M&M’S discover what God says about mentoring. Each study explores a biblical mentoring relationship and how to apply the scriptural lessons to life today.
JANET LEARNED A GREAT DEAL ABOUT TEAM BUILDING while founding and leading Saddleback Church’s Woman to Woman Mentoring Ministry. She shares the joys and sorrows, the failures and successes, and the benefits of team building in The Team That Jesus Built: How to Develop, Equip, and Commission a Women’s Ministry Team (New Hope Publishers).
MENTORING OCCURS IN ALL WALKS OF LIFE—the good times and the bad. It’s sharing with another person our “been-there-done-that-experiences” and with God’s help we made it through, and she will too—and we’ll be there to support her with our encouragement and prayers. God never wastes a hurt. He usually asks us to use our experiences to mentor someone else going through a similar circumstance.
Dear God, They Say It’s Cancer: A Companion Guide for Women on the Breast Cancer Journey is a mentoring walk-along-beside-you book for the woman with breast cancer and is written from Janet’s own journey through the dreaded disease.
Dear God, Why Can’t I Have a Baby? A Companion Guide for Couples on the Infertility Journey is a mentoring walk-along-beside-you book for couples struggling with the heartache of wanting a family.
Dear God, He’s Home!: A Woman’s Guide to Her Stay-at-Home Man is a mentoring walk-along-beside-you book for the woman with a husband home from retirement, illness/disability, out of work, home office, and military deployment.
In Praying for Your Prodigal Daughter: Hope, Help & Encouragement for Hurting Parents,Janet mentors parents from her own experience as a prodigal daughter and having a prodigal daughter. Janet and her daughter Kim candidly share their own story along with stories from other praying mothers and prodigal daughters.