In the spring of 2009 two students on Concordia University Wisconsin’s campus noticed a need for ministry specifically for Young Adult Women. They began by planning a women’s retreat. When over 40 women came to the retreat, they decided that the ministry should continue, and they would lead it. They formed a leadership team (consisting of: Kim Lyskawa, Michelle Russell, Julianne Slane, Vanessa Zellmer, Bethany Nier, and Rachel Mathes) that was committed to planning more retreats. God blessed their efforts and they continue to make a difference on the CUW campus.
Here’s their story:
As we met weekly after the retreat to start planning another for the fall of 2009, we realized that there was a bigger need and we were being called to respond to it. We decided to start a Women’s Ministry on the Concordia Wisconsin campus. We weren’t sure how we were going to make this a ministry known throughout campus, but we started to work and pray about ideas and God led us to many opportunities. We met with CUW’s Women’s Leadership Institute. (The Women’s Leadership Institute (WLI) provides opportunities to grow in the unique gifts of leadership and character that God gives to women for service to Christ, the Church, and the world. www.wlicuw.org.) We told them our ideas and goals. Their response was amazing! Dr. Dr. Mary Hilgendorf (Professor at Concordia and one of the Women’s Leadership Institute’s leaders) has been our mentor and partner along the road as we started this ministry.
In the fall of 2009 we held our second women’s retreat and around 45 women attended. There were so many positive relationships built, and the word was spreading on campus! Since the retreat, the Women’s Ministry of CUW has set up a mentoring program where students can be mentored by other women. Our relationship with the WLI has helped our goals for this mentoring program become reality by hosting a Bible Study for women of a local congregation to come and meet with us, and by helping us connect with older women who are willing to be our mentors. God is so great! Planning is underway for our Spring 2010 women’s retreat. The Women’s Ministry of CUW equips women with the Gospel to serve Christ with love and excellence–to be dignified, having an intentional influence, mentoring and guiding fellow sisters in Christ.
The story these students shared echoes the experience of other young adults I have heard from: Young Adults want mentors. They are looking for older adults who have been “down that road before” to walk along side them with a listening ear and open heart. This generation of young adults longs for organic, supportive relationships with “older” adults. As adults in our church body make themselves available and open to young adults, they will have the opportunity to listen to and support younger brothers and sisters in Christ. Through this kind of intentional mentoring, young adults will see that that the Christian church is a community where they can encounter Christ, a community that has a place for them.
Relationships are the bridge by which people are able to be welcomed into a community, and that includes the church community. No matter what side of the mentoring relationship you are on, may God guide you to create positive relationships with others in your community and congregation that serve as bridges for young adults to experience God’s love and see Jesus in you!