Everyone has experienced some kind of life challenge- the loss of a job, death of a loved one, illness, or divorce. Many people struggle alone, but this was never God's intention. In Galatians 6:2, we are told to "Bear one another's burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ." This is one reason being in fellowship with other Christians is so important.
Many people are loved and cared for in small groups, but others may not have any support at all. In either case, Stephen Ministers are trained and willing to help people who are struggling and need individualized care.
WHO ARE STEPHEN MINISTERS?
Stephen Ministers are spiritually mature members of our congregation, many who have experienced and overcome difficulties in their own lives. Because of God's grace and the love of people who have helped them heal, they have been called to serve others with "distinctively Christian care" in their time of need.
After committing to two years of service and completing 50 hours of training, a Stephen Minister is commissioned by church leadership then assigned care receivers- one at a time- who have been referred. Men care for men; women care for women. They attend a peer supervision group twice a month for support, accountability, and guidance. They also attend regular continuing education classes to enhance their caregiving skills and keep their ministry relevant.
WHAT DO STEPHEN MINISTERS DO?
- Meet with their care receivers once a week for about an hour and may also check in by phone depending on the complexity of needs.
- Listen- really listen- as their care receivers talk through their difficulties.
- Reflect what they hear from care receivers, ask open-ended questions and help care receivers recognize, express, process, and accept their feelings.
- Remain process-oriented. Stephen Ministers do not try to fix care receivers or their problems. Stephen Ministers focus on the caregiving process and rely on God to achieve the results.
- Relate assertively and maintain boundaries. Stephen Ministers respect both care receivers and their needs while setting appropriate boundaries in the caring relationship so care receivers remain as independent as possible.
- Recommend professional care when necessary. Stephen Ministers are not counselors. Therefore, they are not trained to care for those who have mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, addictions, abuse, suicidal tendencies, etc. If Stephen Ministers recognize that the needs of their care receiver exceed the care they are able to provide, they refer them to a mental health professional.
- Maintain confidentiality. Care receivers need to know that what they say to the Stephen Minister will remain in confidence. The only exception is when a care receiver expresses suicidal or homicidal thoughts.
- Pray daily for their care receivers asking God to support them, to resolve the difficulty, to achieve the desired spiritual growth, and to remind them of His presence.
WHO SHOULD ASK FOR A STEPHEN MINISTER?
Any adult (18 years old or older) who is experiencing ongoing difficulty independently dealing with a personal situation brought on by any number of difficulties in life. (e.g. illness, death of a loved one, separation, job loss, etc.) and who could potentially benefit from a one-on-one relationship with a Christian lay care giver (Stephen Minister).
Those who would benefit the most from a Stephen Ministry relationship are those whose situations are situational, those seeking assistance to process their feelings and emotions, those open to hear and apply Biblical truth as it may pertain to their circumstances, and those who do not require the services of a professional counselor or therapist. Stephen Ministry is not a substitute for professional care, but may be used to assist those who are receiving such care as an additional resource with the concurrence of the professional care giver.
HOW CAN I BECOME A STEPHEN MINISTER?
If you have a passion for bringing Christ's love and care to people during a time of need and believe you are being called by God into service as a Stephen minister, please review the answer to the questions, "Who are Stephen Ministers?" and "What Stephen Ministers do?" above.
Training is offered church-wide at Bethel Richland in the Fall of each year, with recruitment and applications accepted in May. Prayerfully decide whether you are willing and able to meet the required training and service commitment. Learn more about the application process to become a Stephen Minister.