What is the best strategy for serving and learning from the aging members of my congregation and community? I think many young moms crave that connection with older ladies who have “been there.”
Thank you for asking about serving your aging members alongside learning from them. I think these are two aspects of relationship that really go hand in hand, and it’s important and valuable to include both in this conversation. We’ll get back to that in a minute.
I agree that young moms instinctively have a desire for connection with experienced, older women who have walked in their shoes. When I was a young mom in my mid-20s, I asked an older lady that I admired to mentor me. Neither she nor I had any idea what that should look like, and while she tried (by having me memorize Scripture in the Amplified version!), we both knew we were pretty clueless about how to proceed, and as a result, it really went nowhere. We both felt bad about it, but neither knew what to do, so we just stopped meeting.
My experience speaks to the need for some structure in one-on-one connections, which is where I recommend you begin. Do you recognize a woman in your church you admire? Invite her on a journey that could be the beginning of something beautiful – both for you as well as for the women in your church. I like this article from Christianity Today (posted 7/7/16) which lays out ten transferable concepts – mothering children or mothers being mothered, these concepts apply to both. This could be a good conversation starter as you pray through how to build a strong relationship.
You asked for a strategy for your church/community. In any new ministry, there are several things to consider:
- First, you need at least one more person to pray and champion this ministry alongside you. If you are a young mom, find a more mature woman (and vise versa). Meet, pray, and discuss ideas for how to begin a spiritual mothering ministry.
- Consider what you want your ministry to look like. It can contain as little or as much structure as will meet your needs. Will you start small (connecting two women at a time) or start big (launch date/event/training, etc.)? Discern how God is leading you.
- Pitch your plan to your pastoral staff. Do your homework and go prepared. Why is a ministry like this important and how will it complement existing ministries? What (if anything) will be required of your pastor(s)? Are you asking for budget money? What do you see the ministry looking like?
Back to serving. I think that an important part of spiritual mothering (often overlooked) is this: it is a two-sided relationship. It’s not just about the mother giving and the daughter taking. The daughter is receiving support in her role as a young mother, but she is also learning what life looks like for the older spiritual mother. In the very beginning, the younger should know that part of the deal is learning how to also care for the older, as she would care for her own mother. What a lovely picture of God’s loving care present in such a relationship.
Treat older women as you would your mother, and treat younger women with all purity as you would your own sisters. – I Timothy 5:2 (NLT)
They [older women] must teach what is proper, so the younger women will be loving wives and mothers. Each of the younger women must be sensible and kind, as well as a good homemaker, who puts her own husband first. Then no one can say insulting things about God’s message. – Titus 2:4b,5 (CEV)