The Growing Together mentoring workshop from the CUW Women’s Leadership Institute provides mentoring content for congregations looking to foster deeper connections.
It’s no secret that in many churches today, women are the driving force behind much of the ministry being done. But, Christian women don’t always have a clear sense of where they can go to be equipped and supported to step into leadership positions—both in their church and in their professions. That’s where the Women’s Leadership Institute (WLI) at Concordia University Wisconsin comes in.
“What we’ve found is that many women volunteers in our congregations desire to make a difference,” said Darcy Paape, director of the WLI. “But, many of these women have not had the opportunity to pursue formal leadership training. There is also a growing population of professional women in our congregations who have training and are willing to mentor and equip others.”
The Women’s Leadership Institute helps bring these women together to educate, encourage, and embolden one another in leadership, she explained.
“Dr. Donna Streufert, our founder, wanted to create an institute where we look at what the Bible says about how women can be partners with pastors, how to be influencers within our congregations, and how to receive support as Christian professionals in secular workplaces.”
One of the best ways to accomplish that, they found, is to encourage women to build up one another.
“As we talked to women, we realized they are very passionate about mentoring; they really want to mentor up the younger generations,” Paape said. “So, developing a program that helped women to mentor other women in their congregations became a primary focus.”
The result is the Growing Together mentoring workshop. This robust program, subtitled “Let Your Mentoring Skills Take Shape,” is designed primarily for church congregations. But it can be a powerful training tool for any organization willing to dig into the Scripture-based curriculum.
“Any congregation can use this,” Paape said. “It was reviewed from an LCMS perspective, by pastors that are on our board, but any Christian denomination would find it accessible and applicable.”
It can also be used with small or large groups, though 16-20 as a minimum is ideal, since some of the activities involve breaking into small groups for discussion.
It all comes at a time when many congregations, just like many other organizations, are working hard to reconnect after a period of COVID-related isolation. Beyond learning mentoring skills, the Growing Together workshop can be a great way to help women grow closer within the church.
“I think right now a lot of congregations have a strong desire to reconnect, to come back together after COVID,” Paape said. “And this is one way, one tool we can offer, to help you do that within your own church.”
Much of the curriculum centers around listening skills and “Fostering Fruitful Conversations.” It’s a way of getting to the heart of what someone is telling you.
“It’s about what we call reflective listening and emotion identification,” Paape said. “It’s about listening closely and taking time to really pull out what another person is saying. Because sometimes a person doesn’t even really know what they’re saying right away.
“The rest of the mentoring skills covered in the Fostering Fruitful Conversations content covers critical thinking skills, scripture application, plan development, and accountability,” Paape added. “And, although created for women, we believe that men and women in our congregations will benefit from what is provided.”
If you or someone you know is interested in arranging a Growing Together mentoring workshop, start by visiting the Growing Together page at the Women’s Leadership Institute. The cost is $250, a one-time fee for unlimited access to all the workshop materials, including the Facilitator’s Guide, Participant’s Guide, videos, and more. All the materials are downloadable, so you can get started right away.
“The program is designed so that anyone can equip themselves to lead it,” Paape said, “but if a congregation wants to enlist one of our team to help facilitate a workshop, that can be arranged, as well. We’re here to help, so just let us know how we can do that for you.”
For those interested in experiencing the Growing Together workshop firsthand, Concordia will host the mentoring workshop on the Mequon campus on Saturday, October 30 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. More details will be on the WLI website soon.
Darcy Paape is director of the Women’s Leadership Institute at CUW and author of Someone to Walk With: A Woman’s Guide to Christian Mentoring. For more information about the Growing Together workshop or the WLI, contact her at email@example.com.
— This story is written by Mike Zimmerman, corporate communications manager for Concordia University Wisconsin. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 262-243-4380.
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