Today’s post was written by Britanee Russell, a senior at Oklahoma Baptist University. Britanee was in the fall class, “Contemporary Issues for Women in Ministry.”

The “M” word. For those of you church-goers, it’s the word that sends older women in the church running for the hills, and ironically draws younger women into the church. What is it?

Mentor.

Before you close this post, let me define  “older women” and “younger women.” When I say “older women”, I am speaking of women in the church who have lived life…good, bad, unexpected and everything in-between.  “Younger women” are like me: a 20-something longing for someone to walk them through this thing called life.

Women my age are desperate to have a relationship with someone older. We need you to say, “I may not have all the answers, but I’ve been where you are and I promise to love you through whatever happens without condition.” My generation calls them mentors or, more simply, discipleship. The problem is women in our churches find being a mentor somewhat “scary.” Why?

Many women hear the word “mentor” from a 20-something and assume we want to do an in-depth Bible study, get really deep theologically or whatever else the average woman in the church might not feel equipped for.

What are we to do about this generational gap plaguing women’s ministry? How about a redefinition of terms? Instead of referring to wiser women as “mentors”, let’s describe relationships as “generational friendships.” In my own experience, my mentor and I have discovered friendship above all. We meet once a week and share a meal together while talking about life. My mentor is there to listen, give advice and love me. She knows the details of my life and loves me anyway.

Generational friendships don’t have to be formal. The purpose of these relationships is to “do life together.” This comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, whether it is grocery shopping, running to a local store, getting coffee, picking up their children or attending soccer games. Generational friendships can revolutionize women’s ministries, bring in younger generations, and develop a life-long pattern for the next generation. If our churches see these relationships as one-on-one discipleship, the impact for the kingdom of Christ cannot be measured.