August 12, 2015 | by: Mike Osborne | 0 comments
Everyone has experienced some kind of life challenge - the loss of a job, death of a loved one, loneliness, illness, or divorce. Many people struggle alone, but this was never God's intention. While Life Groups exist to provide community and support, Stephen Ministers are here to help people who need individualized care.
What is Stephen Ministry?
In 1975, Dr. Kenneth C. Haughk, a pastor and a clinical psychologist, developed training for caregivers who could assist him in providing "distinctively Christian care" to members of his congregation. After training nine people to be Stephen Ministers, these caregivers encouraged Dr. Haughk to offer the training to other congregations. Today, more than 11,000 churches, from over 160 denominations, in all 50 states, 10 Canadian provinces, and 24 other countries, have Stephen Ministry.
How did Stephen Ministry get its name?
Stephen Ministry was named after Stephen in Acts 6. Stephen was the first layman commissioned by the apostles to provide caring ministry to those in need, particularly widows.
Who are Stephen Ministers?
Stephen Ministers are spiritually mature members of our church, many of whom have experienced 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." After committing to two years of service and completing 50 hours of training, a Stephen Minister is assigned a care receiver. 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 three continuing education classes a year to enhance their care-giving skills and keep their ministry relevant.
What do Stephen Ministers do?
• They 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.
• They listen – really listen – as their care receivers share about their difficulties.
• They reflect what they hear from care receivers, asking open-ended questions.
• Stephen Ministers do not try to fix care receivers or their problems. Stephen Ministers focus on the care-giving process and rely on God to achieve the results.
• They recommend professional care when necessary. Stephen Ministers are not counselors. 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 care receivers exceed the care they are able to provide, they refer them to a mental health professional.
• They maintain confidentiality. Care receivers need to know that what they say to their Stephen Minister will remain confidential. The only exception is when a care receiver expresses suicidal or homicidal thoughts.
• They pray for their care receivers.
How do I request a Stephen Minister or get information about Stephen Ministry for someone who may benefit from one?
What if I'm interested in becoming a Stephen Minister?
Becoming a Stephen Minister requires being a member in good standing of UPC, submitting an application, and attending 50 hours of training. Training classes are held on Thursday evenings and a few Saturday mornings this fall. For details, contact Pastor Mike Osborne at the church office: 407-384-3300 x109. You may also email Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org
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