Several weeks ago our parish decided to enroll in the Stephen Series system of lay caring ministry, developed by Stephen Ministries, a not-for-profit religious and educational organization based in St. Louis, Missouri. We will be developing a lasting program of caring ministry through the Stephen Series. This model of ministry is already working in thousands of congregations throughout North America and is equipping laypeople to minister to others who are in need.
Christ Church will be preparing for this ministry in the months to come. From August 3 to August 9, Pat Flynn, Janell Hoffman and I will be attending a one-week Stephen Series Leader’s Training Course in Pittsburgh. At this training course, we will receive the instruction and materials necessary to implement and sustain this program of lay caring ministry here at Christ Church.
Following the one-week Leader’s Training Course, a group of laypeople from our congregation will undertake 50 hours of training in Christian caring skills under our guidance. This training will prepare the participants to care for others, covering such areas as how to listen effectively, how to deal with feelings, how to use traditional Christian resources in caring, how to maintain confidentiality, how to deal with people experiencing crises, and many other areas of concern. A Christ-centered approach to caring and the need to care for the whole person will be stressed throughout the training.
Upon completion of the Stephen Series training, these lay caregivers will be commissioned as “Stephen Ministers” and will become an important part of caring ministry here at Christ Church. These Stephen Ministers will provide confidential, one-to-one Christian care for people experiencing challenges in their lives—such as hospitalization, loss of a loved one, loneliness, divorce, unemployment, birth of a child, and many other life events for which a person could benefit from effective caring ministry.
This will be an exciting time for Christ Church. The Stephen Series both multiplies the amount of caring ministry that goes on in our congregation and deepens the level of participation by laypeople in the healing ministry of Jesus Christ. If you have questions about this new form of ministry our congregation is undertaking, please feel free to ask us. In the meantime, I would like you to keep Pat, Janell, me and our congregation in your thoughts and prayers as we prepare for this major step forward in our lay caring ministry.
Yours in Christ,