The Mentor and Shalom

Seven hundred years before the birth of Christ, Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would be a Prince of Peace.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6  (NIV)

The term translated “peace” is the Hebrew word shalom. Shalom extends far beyond our understanding of peace as the absence of war or conflict. Shalom describes a world where justice and harmony rule; it is a world in which the Prince of Peace rules a creation which reflects God’s character and essence. Isaiah’s prophecy extends beyond the first coming of Christ and peeks through history to his triumphant return in the future. We see this in the following verse:

Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this. Isaiah 9:7 (NIV)

Peace began on the day Christ was born and will find fulfillment on the day He returns. The angelic messengers of God ushered in peace with their proclamation to a few shepherds tending sheep many years ago. “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2:14 (NIV) Scriptures record boldly the fulfillment of this prophecy in the book of Revelation in which the Son returns in might and ushers in His new kingdom on a new earth – a kingdom in which there is no more violence, sickness, or sin. Peace reigns, and His name is Jesus.

Meanwhile, we live through 2020. We live through conflict, turbulence, pain and death. We long for the fulfillment and we wonder, in moments of silence, if this peace will ever reign? Our hope resides not only in the birth, death, and resurrection of this proclaimed Prince. It resides also in His life. He dwelt among us as one of us for a purpose, and that purpose was not only to usher in peace with the Father; the purpose was also to model peace for his believers.

Upon whom does His favor rest? It rests upon the prodigal who returns; it rests on the demoniac living among the tombs; it rests on a prostitute named Mary of Magdalene; it even rests upon the hated lepers and tax collectors. This sort of peace remains as foreign to us as the grace of God itself. Yet, there it is – living on the pages of our scriptures within the life of our Savior. And, as we read, we see that it is offered to all of us – especially to we who are outcast, lonely, forgotten and mistreated. The gift of Christmas is Shalom – harmony with God – found only in the residing transformative presence of the Prince of Shalom.

Mentors, you are shalom today, and you foreshadow the fulfillment of shalom promised and longed for by all believers. Every child you love … every cheek you turn … every act of anger you answer with forgiveness … every extra mile and late-night phone call … is shalom. You do not always see it—nor do you always feel it—but the Prince who sees all never misses these sacrifices. He smiles as you join Him in the ushering of His new creation one person at a time. We smile with Him, and the staff at CAYM wish you blessings in your work of peace these days. May many young people, abandoned and lonely, receive the Prince of Peace in 2021 through your lives and ministry.

Mentoring Programs: Basic Internal Metrics

Keeping record of the basic internal metrics for a mentoring program is an important part of tracking the progress of a program.  These basic metrics help a mentoring program to identify which mentoring best practices are being done well and what adjustments may need to be made so that the program becomes more effective.  Let’s look at the metrics that mentoring programs need to track and why they are important.

  • Mentor Recruitment – Programs need to track when and how they recruited their mentors.  Evaluate this information to see what recruitment methods are most effective and productive.
  • Protégé Referrals – Programs need to track where they receive referrals of their protégés, the best time of year to recruit, and who is the best connection in that referral source.  Evaluate this information to see what recruitment methods are most effective and productive.
  • New Matches – Track the date that the new matches start.
  • Coaching Contact Rate – Track the monthly contacts that each mentoring coach makes with each mentor, protégé, and parent / guardian on their caseload.  Within one match there are three contacts that must be made (mentor, protégé, and parent).  It is important to contact all three within forty-eight hours of the match to assess how everyone feels about the first meeting. During the first three months of the match, the coach needs to contact all three every other week, so there would be a total of six contacts per month for a new match.  After the first three months it is one contact per month with mentor, protégé, and parent, so there would be a total of three contacts per month.  The method for calculating the contact rate is to divide the number of contacts made in the month by the total number of contacts required (60/68 = 88% contact rate).  Contacts are the key to assessing the health of the match.  This is a good area to set a goal.  A good contact rate is 90% and up.
  • Match Endings – Track the date the match ended and why it ended.  Document reasons that the match closed – (mentor ended, family ended, mentor moved, protégé moved, mentor instability, family instability, incompatible match, etc.). Evaluate why the match ended, especially for matches that did not fulfill their initial commitment.  Have a feedback loop for any changes or adjustments that might need to be made to prevent this from happening again.  For example, if a program is experiencing premature match endings, does more emphasis need to be put into the mentor training around mentor commitment or do expectations need to be communicated better during screening interviews, mentoring training, and the match meeting?
  • 1- and 2-Year Retention Rates – There are two ways to grow a mentoring program: recruiting new mentors and retaining existing mentors.  Also, mentoring research shows that longer mentoring matches yield better outcomes.  Let’s look at how a program measures the retention rates of mentoring matches, which is the percentage of mentoring matches continued after one, two, three years and beyond.  For newer mentoring programs it is helpful to track one and two-year retention numbers.  For mentoring programs that have existed many years it is helpful to figure their current retention rates by looking at numbers for the past two years. These one and two-year retention numbers will give a snapshot of your effectiveness in keeping mentoring matches engaged. For older programs, going back five years or more will give you a broader picture of program effectiveness.  These metrics help your program look at what adjustments might need to be made with coaching of matches, training, screening, and match-making procedures.  

Match retention data is easy to compile.  Keep track of all new matches and all match endings.  For a one-year retention rate, take a snapshot of all matches that have made it past one year, but have not exceeded two years. 

  • Pick a date — for example, March 1, 2020 – and then look at all the matches from the time period of March 1, 2018 – March 1, 2019 and determine how many are still going and how many ended. 
    • To get the retention rate, add all the new matches made from March 1, 2018 – March 1, 2019 and come up with a total (50). 
    • Then, look at the active matches as of March 1, 2020 and see how many of those matches are still going (40). 
    • Finally, take the number of matches still going and divide it by the total.  The percentage is your retention rate (40 /50 = 80%).  That means that 80% of the matches made over one year ago and less than two years ago are still going.  An average one-year retention rate is around 75-85%.  A good one-year retention rate is 85-90%. At CAYM many of the ministries we train have retentions of over 90%. 
    • The two-year retention is figured the same way, using the above example taking a snap shot from March 1, 2017 – March 1, 2018 and seeing how many are still going as of March 1, 2020.  A good two-year retention rate is 70-80%.  Most programs just look at one-and-two-year retention rates; they don’t go much higher than that.  If your program has low match retention rates, it would be important to identify why that is and make necessary adjustments.

Mentoring programs that track these basic metrics, evaluate them on a regular basis (at least yearly), and make necessary adjustments will find that their programs will continue to be more effective.

–Donnovan Karber, National Field Director

The Power of a Dream

Dreams are powerful. They drive great people to do great things. A dream led Martin Luther King Jr. to the White House lawn many years ago – a dream of equality and brotherhood between races in our nation.

Dreams inspire. Whether it’s William Wallace’s cry of “freedom,” Kennedy’s push toward the moon, or a 1980’s under-rated USA hockey team, dreams stir the soul and ignite the flames of hope within the eyes of the downtrodden.

Dreams conquer. They conquer fears, trials, doubts and naysayers. Young David dreamt of a free Israel and God’s glory as he sprinted towards Goliath. Life without a dream is no life at all. 

My own life was changed by a dreamer. His name is John, but I call him Pastor. Pastor John guided me through my high school years. When I graduated college, this man dreamed that I could be a pastor, too. He extended his social network when I wanted to be a missionary. He encouraged me when I braved the Sr. Pastor role. He guided me through doctoral work and encouraged me when I wanted to quit. Today, as an octogenarian, he sits on my church planting board. He dreams with me and has done so for more than 30 years. He’s my mentor. His dreams have trickled down into powerful dreams of my own.

Dreams are contagious. Like sweet aromas they pass from generation to generation carrying the seeds of future destiny. “I can be better. I can be stronger. I can be more.” These are the scents of providence.

Dreams are fragile. They grow in the soil of encouragement, forgiveness, patience, and discipline. They wilt under harsh waves of criticism and dry winds of neglect.

Dreams are universal. Every child who raises a bat dreams of the majors; who attends school dreams of acceptance; who looks in the mirror dreams of beauty.

Joseph, from the Bible, was a teenage dreamer (Genesis 37). Sun, moon, stars would bow to him one day. He knew this to be true, for he had seen it in a dream. Thirty-some years later this dream came true when his family discovered the dreamer they rejected had become the ruler of Egypt. The dream came true for the benefit of all, but it came true only through years of pain, rejection, imprisonment, and isolation. It was the dream that drove Joseph to greatness and held him warm on the cold prison nights. It was the dream that gave Joseph perspective and power to forgive those who had done him harm.

Dreams are powerful. They grow out of the Dream Maker’s own heart. God created a planet in which he envisioned all humans loved and loving. God dreamt of a life among his creation in which he would know and be known by his people. They would carry his name – a secret name yet to be told. The Dream Maker still cherishes this dream (Revelation 21:1-4). A dream drove his son, Jesus, to humbly take on the likeness of humanity and die a cruel death on a cross. This same dream inspires Christ’s followers to do likewise.

Mentors, you share the role of the Dream Maker who instilled your dream deep within. You are the sharers and purveyors of new dreams, hopes, and callings. You, too, are driven by his dream to reconcile the lost; to restore hope and dignity; and to pass on the sweet aroma of unrealized destiny to the next generation. Thank you for your dream!

Dreams are powerful.

-Ken Merrifield

Pandemic Pack to the Rescue!

Something our society has seen as a result of this pandemic is a burst of flexibility and creativity in the ways people find to stay connected. The mentoring team at City Gospel Mission in Cincinnati is a great example. From a brainstorming session about how to connect with and bless mentors and mentees, the “Pandemic Pack” was born!

Courtney Walton, mentoring director at City Gospel, came up with the idea to engage mentoring matches with a city scavenger hunt. Her boss also approved of giving each match a gift card to get ice cream together. The matches took pictures during the scavenger hunt then sent the pictures to Courtney to be entered into a drawing for a bigger prize at the end of the month.

Please enjoy a few encouraging stories that came out of this time.

“One mentor had not been able to connect with her mentee since the start of the pandemic and was actually considering ending her time as a mentor. First the mentor ran into her mentee’s mom at the store, and that encouraged her to keep trying to connect. Then, she received the Pandemic Pack (which we personally dropped off to mentors’ doors), and she said that felt like the perfect way to reconnect. They had an awesome time! The mentor decided to continue mentoring her mentee, and she said the “Pandemic Pack” is what helped to get her back into a relationship with her mentee!”

“Another story comes from a mentor who did not feel 100% comfortable with getting together for the scavenger hunt because it would require being close in a car for a long period of time. Because the mentor was extra cautious due to not wanting to pass the virus on to his grandmother, he had not seen his mentee since February. Jenny (a staff member on my team) let him know that the scavenger hunt was optional, and that he could just give his mentee the ice cream gift card and other items in the bag. The mentor got creative and decided to take a convertible so that he could drive around with his mentee and still feel comfortable. They had an awesome time!”

Way to go, City Gospel Mission! We know many other mentoring programs are finding similar ways to stay safe but still engage with kids. They may need it now more than ever.

When Mary Met Sally

Life in eastern Kentucky is not easy for most of the residents. Unemployment from the loss of coal jobs followed by an overwhelming dependence on government assistance has left a poverty of spirit more devastating than the financial fallout.

Even in this difficult environment, Sally’s* life has more challenges than most kids will ever experience. Her family has to be “always ready to leave” either for fear of being arrested or because of violence associated with their drug trade. Sally’s mom takes her on drug deals because she feels it will help her avoid arrest.

Sally is often homeless having to surf from couch to couch in other people’s houses. Despite the fact that according to the principal, Sally is the smartest girl in the school, her education suffered along with her ability to cope with life.

Then in second grade, Sally was matched with Mary. Sally thrived under Mary’s care. On days when they would meet during lunch, the teachers saw a remarkable difference in how she behaved. She even walked taller on those days. Two years later, Sally is excelling in school despite the fact that her home life hasn’t changed. Mary shares the hope they have in Jesus and is trying to get her involved in her church.

Please pray for this match. Mary is facing family health challenges that will limit her contact with Sally for a while.

*Mentor and mentee names were changed to protect their privacy.

Old Church, New Vitality

CAYM would like to start sharing stories of mentoring program successes. Please enjoy these stories and join us in continuing to pray for these programs. God is using mentoring in powerful ways across our country!

Pratt, Kansas, would seem like a bucolic setting in the center of our country’s breadbasket. But like many similar communities, this town is slowly dying. Healthy young people move away to what they envision are better opportunities in urban areas. Those who stay are old or too often caught in the debilitating cycle of drugs and crime.

The Presbyterian church in Pratt sparsely filled its pews with aging parishioners. Their leadership wondered how they could impact their small community and revive the congregation. Matters seemed to get worse when the small apartment building next door was the scene of a murder and two arsons related to the growing drug trade. What difference could a church of old people make?

Mentoring seemed to be the answer. Carol Stull, a retired school teacher, joined with Pastor Stephen Wing to start a mentoring program directed at youth from a local school. But how many mentors can you get out of the sixty people who attended Sunday services?

Twenty.

One third of Pratt Presbyterian Church is now mentoring Pratt’s youth, and other churches are starting to join in the movement to rescue the town’s youth. A favorite activity of the mentoring matches is to grow vegetables in the church’s garden. The older church members may not be able to play basketball or ride a skateboard, but they can start a gardening project that youth, even those growing up amidst farms, have not had a chance to explore.

Carol Stull and her team were trained by CAYM in 2013 …

First Love-A Simple Reminder

I love The Princess Bride. It’s just a great movie where good prevails over evil and true love wins in the end! Wesley, the commoner, wins over the heart of the princess with his startling capacity to persevere every obstacle placed in front of him.

How about you? Are you also a believer in true love? God believes in true love. He is true love. He desires his mentors to be purveyors of the same.

This rises to the surface in His message to the Apostle John found in Revelation 2:1-4: “These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first” (NIV, italics added).

God praises the church in Ephesus because they work hard for His kingdom. He recognizes how they persevere and praises them for their pure doctrine. They have no tolerance for wicked people in their midst, and they even stand up against false teachers. The Apostle Paul, who had warned them of the coming of false teachers many years before (cf. Acts 20:29), would have been proud of their diligent guard against error. This is a good church. They work hard for God. They persevere during trials. They fight for truth and correct doctrine. Certainly, this is a great church.

Yet, God finds something wrong with this congregation. In fact, He finds something so deeply wrong, that He warns them He is on His way to close them down – to remove their lampstand. Despite all of their correct behaviors and beliefs, they have lost sight of their first love. The problem is that God values love more than anything else. Without love, Paul teaches that our prophecies and speeches are all like clanging symbols to God (1 Corinthians 13). Christianity does not exist without love at its core – for God is love (1 John 4:8).

Mentors, what this means is that we can do all of the right things and study all of the right materials. We can quote the statistics, do the screening and recruiting perfectly. We can make the matches and grow our programs. We can do all of these things and believe all of the right information, but without love it is meaningless. Love precedes service. We know that inherently mentoring is an act of love. It starts with love, and it grows as love grows. Yet, in the midst of busy schedules and innumerous obstacles, we, like the Ephesians, can lose track of our first love. According to Thom Ranier in his book, Simple Life, love gets lost in the congestion and selfishness of an over-busy lifestyle (132-133, 2009).

Here are a couple of questions to consider today. How long has it been since your mentoring community gathered to share stories of love and compassion both given and received? Directors, when was the last time you gathered your team to speak with them, not about performance, but about appreciation, love, and the reason you personally became a mentor?

-Ken Merrifield

Continuing the Work of Mentoring

The pandemic has not stopped communities from preparing to start new mentoring programs. Since many of us are spending more time at home, it’s a great time to build a team so that they are ready to make mentoring matches either through virtual means now or in one-to-one settings when this current crisis subsides. Take a look at how three communities are moving forward:

Sullivan, Illinois: The Vineyard Church of Central Illinois had a vision to unify their town to reach the most vulnerable youth in the community. Although it would have been easy to keep the program within their church, they invited all the churches in Sullivan to join them in an effort to develop a safe, effective, and sustainable mentoring ministry. Five churches are now engaged in CAYM’s Gold Certification program to be trained to run a mentoring program in partnership with the school system in order to bring caring Christians into the lives of kids who are struggling to find a way to thrive. The schools are fully behind their effort as they see the need for their students to have intergenerational connections that will help them succeed.

Moultrie, Georgia: Like many small towns across the country, Moultrie is dealing with what used to be referred to as “city problems.” Drugs, poverty, and single parent households have affected every area of their community. Mission Moultrie and Titus Ranch have joined together to mobilize churches to make an impact on their school system. They are engaged in CAYM’s Silver Certification program and are now organizing their town by convening community stakeholders who want to strengthen Moultrie by connecting generations through mentoring. Although most of the organizing is through Zoom meetings, they are also interviewing kids, families, pastors, and community leaders to assess their strengths, needs, and aspirations. Through these efforts, they will work with CAYM to design the mentoring program and develop a strategic plan to start making mentoring matches in the spring.

Mississauga, Ontario: A group of African immigrants, all successful professionals, were concerned about negative influences on their youth. In this city bordering Toronto, they observed a culture that steered youth away from God and into unhealthy lifestyles where young adults were failing to realize all their potential. They formed Royal Youth for Christ to train young people in how to find God’s path in relationships, career, and marriage. What they lacked was the one-on-one connections where personal hopes and fears could be shared. They researched ways to make these connections and began to study mentoring. They determined that CAYM’s Bronze Certification program was the best path to train a volunteer team to make their mentoring efforts most effective. They are now engaged in our online training and will begin making their first mentoring matches this month. Their long-term goal is to help expand mentoring to other African diaspora communities in order to help their youth prosper as they connect to a new culture.

For more information on CAYM Certification programs, visit our website: CAYM.org.

-Peter Vanacore, Executive Director

A Place of Hope

We often tell a story during our CAYM Mentor Orientation about a mentor who showed up week after week to meet with his protégé. Each week he showed up and waited. Each week the protégé was a no-show. This went on for months until the mentor became so discouraged that his coach called a meeting to investigate the problem. To the mentor’s surprise, the protégé wanted to continue the relationship. In fact, the protégé had been showing up and watching from a distance every week to test the mentor. This young person needed to know that the mentor would be consistent. This story is true, and it encourages the rest of us to keep going – even when our mentoring relationship struggles. This story triggers an important Biblical question: How does the mentor remain hopeful when he/she experiences rejection in the relationship? Here are some thoughts to consider.

First: Stay Connected to Hope

Christians often postpone hope to an eternal fulfillment when God will return and set things right. They think, “It sure is rough now, but someday it will be better.” Truly Christ will return one day and set things right, but hope resides in the present as much as it does in the past and the future. The Christian has an eternal hope because he/she is connected to the past work of Christ (Romans 6:5). The cross won the victory. During times of hardship, it becomes important to remember that the victory won at the cross was purchased through hardship and pain. Through Christ’s pain, he won the victory. The resurrection only makes sense in light of the crucifixion itself. In other words, the victory was won presently as Christ remained faithful during the rejection experienced on that cross. When the mentor endures suffering and rejection, he/she actually wins the victory through the suffering and rejection. Relationship is risky and costly. This was true for Christ and remains true for the believer. Hope endures when the believer becomes confident of God’s current work through pain. This is what the writer of Hebrews meant when he wrote that “Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1). God wins the victory simultaneously with the pain. He uses the rejection both to change and grow the mentor and to reveal His unending love for the protégé (Romans 8:37-39).

Second: Remember that Christianity is a Shared Experience

The Christian faith depends on the shared experience described in Romans 6, Galatians 2, and John 16. These passages remind believers that Christ-followers are united with Christ in death, life, crucifixion, and resurrection. Christ promises that the Holy Spirit resides in the life of each believer in John 16. Shared experience with God remains one of the most fundamental doctrines of the New Testament. Romans 8:17 reminds us that we share in Christ’s suffering and glory. Philippians 1:7 teaches that we share in God’s grace. Colossians 1:12 mentions that we share in God’s inheritance. 2 Thessalonians 2:14 describes how we share in God’s glory. Take a look at the word “share” in the New Testament and discover many more passages where God promises his kids that life on this earth is always a shared experience with Him – both in times of ease and in times of struggle. God even promises to walk through the valley of the shadow of death with us as we pass through the final stage of our life (Psalm 23). He never leaves us nor forsakes us. This is Good News. As the mentor struggles, the confident assurance of God’s abiding within brings hope. God walks with the mentor through the rejection, heartache, disappointment, joy, laughter, and confusion of authentic relationship. Remember, mentor, every one of us remains a protégé of the Lord who always “shows-up” even as we faithfully do the same.

-Ken Merrifield

Seeing God at Work in Your Mentoring Ministry

Would you like a simple way that you and your mentoring team can see God at work in your mentoring program?  Just as we know what is close to a friend’s heart by spending time with him or her, we can know God’s heart and where He is moving by spending time with Him.

In his workbook Experiencing God, Henry Blackaby explains that “God has told us that He is already at work trying to bring a lost world to Himself.  If we will adjust our lives to Him in a love relationship, He will show us where He is at work. That revelation is His invitation to us to get involved in His work. Then, when we join Him, He completes His work through us” (p. 67).  John 5:17, 19-20 tells us, “17My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working. 19I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. 20For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these.”

This perspective has helped encourage me over the years to seek an intimate relationship with God daily so that I can be attune to God revealing to me where He is at work around me. In our present day, God uses the Holy Spirit to speak to us through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church so that He can reveal to us where He is working around us. 

When I worked at Youth Horizons mentoring program in Wichita, Kansas, our mentoring team came up with a simple discipline that allowed us to see God at work in our mentoring program. Each of us endeavored to have intimate relationships with God, and we would meet together weekly for one hour to talk about any issues, needs, or challenges that were going on with our mentors, protégés, families, or the mentoring ministry in general.  We would then write the prayer requests on a whiteboard and pray for each of them as a team.  Then, throughout the week we would individually lift up prayer for the requests. As we connected with the mentors, protégés and families, we would let them know that we were praying for them.  The following week we would meet again as a team to add any new issues to the board and take off any that had been resolved. 

We were intentional about making the connection between praying and watching to see how God would answer our prayers.  We compiled an ongoing list of the issues God had resolved through prayer. It was very encouraging to see! At the end of each year we would meet as a team and review all the prayers that God had answered and take time to give thanks to Him.

This very simple and tangible method allowed our mentoring team to see God work in a mighty way.  It helped us stay connected to God, and it was a significant encouragement to our staff and all the people we served.  If your mentoring team does not already do something like this, I would encourage you to give it a try for a couple of months and see what God does. He is ready for you to join Him in His work.

-Donnovan Karber, National Training Director