Sponsorship is no more - Mentoring
Being a Mentor means being a guide, an encourager, a supporter and is not just meant for the people attending a Weekend for the first time. The reality is mentoring has always taken place within our Community and at all levels. This is especially true for the Weekend Teams.
So mentoring is nothing new!
There are two things which are new. The first is simply shining a spotlight on this process. Our Community is all about developing people to be better leaders in their home church, and that is what mentoring is all about.
The second thing that is new is we are getting rid of the old process of Sponsorship with all of its rules and regulations.
More about Mentoring
Mentoring was built right into the Team preparation process. The Weekend leadership mentors each member of the team as everyone is doing a job they have never done before. We also always had two Ex-Rectors serve on each team to mentor the Team leadership, that’s why their new title is “Advisor” instead of Ex-Rec. The Board of Directors also provided what are now known as the Weekend Leader Liaison and the Team Liaison to serve as advisors to the leadership, as well.
Sponsorship was actually limiting the number of people who could attend our Weekends because somebody in the Community had to invite the candidate. Moving forward, people can register to attend a Weekend on our website and no sponsor is required. Our thinking is that if someone wants to attend a conference, they would just register for it themselves and take responsibility to be there. So why not do that for our Retreat Weekends? The truth is, Sponsorship was intended to screen out those who our previous parent organization deemed unacceptable (a long list) and then support those who were thought to be acceptable. But we were not practicing that here in Footsteps.
Since people can register to attend a Weekend themselves, not all guests will have a Mentor before the Weekend. That is fine. Of course, some people will hear about Footsteps from one of our members, and that member can then serve as their Mentor. Between the time someone registers and the actual Weekend, our Pre-Weekend Committee might find one of our members in that person’s church or town who could be a Mentor encouraging the person and answering any questions.
Gone are many of the old rules of the past. The goal is to make the Weekend feel more like a conference. The people who will be our guests on the Weekend are now free to drive themselves, even if they have a Mentor. But if transportation is a problem, then the Mentor could be available to drive them or arrange for a carpool. The Mentor will be able to answer any questions the person has. Mentors will also provide Blessing Notes for the Weekend and encourage other Footstep members to do so, as well. Our guests will be responsible for themselves but ideally will be blessed to have a Mentor for support.
Some relationships might form during the Weekend with someone who was on the Team. Perhaps the guest’s Table Leader or a Team member who develops a friendship with the guest. This new Mentor could even be in addition to a mentoring relationship started before the Weekend. No rule against having two Mentors!
Here are some ways that a Mentor can be a support:
Be an encourager! The person is going to have a terrific spiritual retreat surrounded by a lot of love. Answer any questions they have. Secrets are a thing of the past, but don’t volunteer information about the Blessings that are to come, unless they specifically ask.
Prepare your Blessings Notes in advance and encourage other members of our community to send Blessings Notes for your participant as well as Community Blessings to be shared by all. Blessing Notes are now delivered Saturday afternoon, Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon. We ask that people do not send individual gifts to people that are larger than what will fit in a legal-sized envelope. Our website will have information as to where to mail things, if you can’t take them up to the Weekend.
Guests now are free to drive themselves to the event. But if transportation is a problem , or the guest would prefer not to drive, then perhaps you can offer to drive them or help arrange a carpool. You are encouraged to come to support your guest at the reception as they arrive, but it is no longer required.
A huge part of what makes our community’s Retreat Weekends special is the prayer support and love that surrounds each Weekend. Pray for all involved, both Guests and Team. A schedule for the Weekend can be found on our website so you can follow along.
Individual Blessings Notes and Community Blessings can still be delivered to the drop off basket at the door to the left of the building. At this time Meal Servers are not allowed by OLC.
Come sing at the Serenade (the former Manianita).
Attend the closing. You might arrange to take the person out for a quick dinner afterwards. Some churches even have an afterglow party!
After the weekend, please remember to pray for and nurture your new member of our community including a Fourth Day phone call. Help and encourage them to find a small group ministry/Reunion Group for accountability, and whenever possible to attend our monthly Footsteps Gatherings. Please make a special effort to accompany them to the first Gathering following the weekend
Be faithful in walking with them for at least six months to encourage continued growth in their walk with Christ and participation in our Fourth Day activities. The Weekend’s messages of Love, Study, and Action often need to be reinforced over time.
There is no longer a waiting period for people to serve on a team. Encourage the person to submit an application for serving on a team. One Spiritual Director declared that serving on a team is 10 times better than the Weekend itself. YOU might want to submit an application, too!
Being a Mentor means being a blessing to someone. Not only for our guests attending their first Weekend, but anyone in our Community. Even our President has people who previously served as president for advice and support. And it is part of what makes our Community so special.