Parkway's Stephen Ministry
Meeting for Potential Stephen Minister Trainees, June 23, 2013We need to identify men and women of our congregation who are willing to answer the call of Jesus to train and serve as Stephen Ministers. On June 23, 2013, 6:30-7:20p,Room 104, there will be a Stephen Minister information meeting for Parkway members 18 years or older interested in receiving Stephen Minister training beginning in mid-August 2013. A meeting sign up sheet and Stephen Ministry information are available on the Stephen Ministry table in the hallway
Stephen Leaders and Stephen Ministers will be available to answer questions about the program and the training.
We plan to begin a training class starting in mid August, 2013 with 50 hours of stimulating and useful training in
Christian caring skills. The classes are scheduled on Sundays (time to be determined after talking with potential
Stephen Minister trainees) at Parkway. The training material includes a comprehensive two volume Stephen
Ministry Training Manual and three other books: Christian Caregiving-a Way of Life, Speaking the Truth in Love
(How to Be an Assertive Christian), and When and How to Use Mental Health Resources (A Guide for Stephen
Ministers, Stephen Leaders, and Church Staff). Those Parkway members interested in receiving Stephen
Minister training will be required to fill out a Stephen Minister Application which will then be reviewed by our Stephen Leaders. The cost of the training material to a trainee is a little over $50. We will order the training material from Stephen Ministries, St. Louis and provide it to each trainee prior to the class start date.
Stephen Minister training combines sound theological principles with contemporary psychology. Stephen Edge, our Training Coordinator, will lead in teaching the Stephen Minister trainees with the assistance of Pastor Bill Ford and our other Stephen Leaders as needed. The skills our Stephen Ministers learn and practice prepare them to provide a very high level of Christian caregiving. The training is intense because it explores some serious life issues, but it is also a growth-producing and enjoyable experience. The 50 hours of Stephen Minister training is normally broken down into twenty 2½-hour sessions. Training topics include: The Person of the Caregiver; Feelings: Yours, Mine, and Ours; The Art of Listening; Distinctively Christian Caring; Process versus Results in Caregiving; Assertiveness: Relating Gently and Firmly; Maintaining Boundaries in Caregiving; Crisis Theory and Practice: Danger versus Opportunity; Confidentiality; and Ministering to Those Experiencing Grief.
At the completion of the training, the trainees will be commissioned as Stephen Ministers at one of our worship services and introduced at the other worship service. They will then join our active Stephen Ministers in providing Christ centered one-to-one care to individuals experiencing difficulties in life. Stephen Ministers are assigned to care receivers of the same gender (male with male, female with female) at least 18 years of age. Most meet once a week for about an hour at a time. They may also check in with the care receivers by telephone or e-mail, particularly when the care receiver is going through a difficult time. Also Stephen Ministers are required to participate twice a month in Small Group Peer Supervision and Continuing Education.
Before becoming a Stephen Leader, in January 2007, I went through Stephen Minister training twice. Initially I received training at the Monument Community Presbyterian Church in Colorado in 1993, then here at Parkway in 2004. I expected to learn a lot about caregiving, but didn’t anticipate the personal and spiritual growth I experienced. Looking back, perhaps what I enjoyed most was the close Christian bond formed with those in our training class and the leaders that taught the classes. Our trainees are in for a rewarding experience and have the opportunity of being part of “God’s love in action.”
Please lift up our Stephen Ministry at Parkway in your prayers. We are in the process of identifying, selecting a new class of Stephen Ministers and will train them to minister to the needs of our congregation and community
If you would like to become a Stephen Minister, if you would like more information on Stephen Ministry, or if you or someone you know might benefit from the care of a Stephen Minister, please contact Pastor Bill Ford, Phone 770-889-8694, E-mail: Bill.Ford@parkway-church.org or Norm Baker, Stephen Leader, Phone 770-886-0439, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or one of our Stephen Leaders or Stephen Ministers.
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Stephen Ministry
What exactly is Stephen Ministry and Why the Name Stephen?
Stephen Ministry is a Christ centered caring ministry in our congregation in which trained and supervised lay persons, called Stephen Ministers, provide one-to-one Christian care to individuals facing life challenges or difficulties. The name Stephen comes from Stephen in the Bible, who was the first lay person commissioned by the apostles to provide caring ministry to those in need as recorded in Acts 6.
Who is involved?
Stephen Leaders are the ones who oversee and direct our Stephen Ministry. They attend a seven day Leader’s Training Course (LTC) taught at several locations each year by Stephen Ministries of St. Louis. At the completion of the course, they are commissioned as Stephen Leaders. Then they are commissioned to serve as Stephen Leaders by their church congregation after they return from the LTC. They recruit, select, train, organize, and supervise our Stephen Ministers. Also, they work closely with the pastor to identify people in need of care and match them with a Stephen Minister. Currently in our congregation we have four active Stephen Leaders (Pastor Bill Ford, Norm Baker, Stephen Edge, and Marcia Tidwell) and three inactive Stephen Leaders.
Stephen Ministers are the caregivers. They have been through 50 hours of training, taught by our Stephen Leaders at Parkway or at their former churches, in Christian caregiving, including general topics such as listening, feelings, boundaries, assertiveness, and using Christian resources in caregiving. In addition, their training covers specialized topics such as ministering to the divorced, hospitalized, bereaved, and aging. Stephen Ministers have a two year commitment which includes the training period. Some choose to serve beyond the two-year point with the approval of the Stephen Leaders. Since 2000 Parkway has trained seven Stephen Minister classes (2000, 2001, 2004, 2006, 2008-2009, 2010-2011, and 2011-2012). Some have completed their two year commitment and continue to serve as Stephen Ministers. Those who are inactive may later choose to become active again at a later time with the approval of the Stephen Leaders. We currently have 12 active Stephen Ministers (James Ashley, Matthew Barranco, Stefani Baskam, John Burkhalter, Brenda Helmly, Betsy Hunter, Nanette Kicker, Shannon Moore, Ken Parkany, Linda Parkany, Norman Plourde, and Bonnie Vaughan). We have 18 inactive Stephen Ministers who have completed their two year commitment or were trained and served at a prior church. . Our Stephen Leaders are also trained Stephen Ministers except for Pastor Bill Ford. Two trained Stephen Ministers (Sherrill McCracken and Carrie Hamilton) are leaders of Parkway’s Hannah’s Ministry. Carolyn Jones, a trained Stephen Leader and Stephen Minister, is Leader and Facilitator for Rainbows Ministry, and Julie Cordry, a trained Stephen Minister, is a Facilitator for Rainbows Ministry at Parkway. Joan Brown, a trained Stephen Minister, is Leader of a Nursing Home Ministry. Many trained Stephen Leaders and Stephen Ministers hold leadership positions at Parkway.
Care Receivers are the recipients of Stephen Ministers’ care. They are people at least eighteen years old from our church or community who are experiencing divorce, grief, loss of a job, loneliness, hospitalization, terminal illness, or any of an endless number of other life difficulties. Stephen Ministers usually meet with their care receivers once a week for about an hour for as long as the care receiver will benefit from the relationship. The care receiver’s name and details about the relationship are kept confidential. Male Stephen Ministers care for men and female Stephen Ministers care for women.
What Do Stephen Ministers Do?
Stephen Ministers are caring Christian friends who listen, understand, accept, and pray for/with care receivers who are working through a crisis or a tough time. Their role is to listen and care—not to give advice or counsel. Stephen Ministers are also trained to recognize when a care receiver’s need exceeds what they can provide. When that happens, they work with care receivers to help them receive the level of care they really need.
What’s the Pastor’s Role?
Pastors will always be the primary caregivers, but there is no way pastors can meet all the needs for care. God has called all of us, not just pastors, to minister to one another. Stephen Ministry multiplies ministry by turning pastors into equippers, so they can enable lay people to provide caring ministry as well.
How Can Someone Become a Stephen Minister?
The first step is to pray. God has called each of us to ministry. Prayer is one way we learn what ministry God is calling us to do. As you pray, ask God whether Stephen Ministry is the right ministry for you. Think about what gifts God has given you and whether they can best be utilized as a Stephen Minister. You probably won’t get immediate answers on this. Prayer is often a journey. Not just one prayer, but many prayers as you search your heart for God’s direction for you. Is Stephen Ministry right for you?
A related step is to look at the spiritual gifts God has blessed you with. Not everyone has the gifts to be a caregiver. Among other attributes, Stephen Ministers need to be loving, patient, non-judgmental, confidential, prayerful, encouraging, good listeners, and make themselves available for God to work through them.
A next step is to look at your current responsibilities. Stephen Ministry is a big commitment. Not everyone who has the gifts to be a Stephen Minister can necessarily do so at this point in his or her life. If you are stretched thin already, now is probably not the time to become a Stephen Minister. Or this might be the time to re-evaluate and prioritize everything you are doing, so you can make the two-year commitment to Stephen Ministry.
Another consideration is to look at your own life circumstances—is now the time? For instance, if you are in the midst of the grief process, it probably is better for you to receive care at this point in your life than to become a caregiver. Some of the best caregivers can be people who have worked through their own brokenness, but usually not when they are in the midst of that brokenness.
If you are truly interested, perhaps the best way to find out exactly what is involved and what the joys, challenges, and benefits are is to talk to one of our active or inactive Stephen Ministers or Leaders. Our active Stephen Ministers are (James Ashley, Matthew Barranco, Stefani Baskam, John Burkhalter, Brenda Helmly, Betsy Hunter, Nanette Kicker, Shannon Moore, Linda Parkany, Ken Parkany, Norman Plourde, and Bonnie Vaughan) and our active Stephen Leaders (Pastor Bill Ford, Norm Baker, Stephen Edge, and Marcia Tidwell). They can share their own experiences about what it has been like to serve as a Stephen Minister. They can answer most of your questions about training, serving, supervision, continuing education, and the time commitment involved.
Potential Stephen Ministers go through an application, interview, and selection process. One of the reasons is so the Stephen Leaders can look at all of the above factors with you and help you determine whether Stephen Ministry is right for you at this time in your life. Stephen Minister trainees receive 50 hours of training taught by Parkway Stephen Leaders. Stephen Edge is our Stephen Leader Coordinator for Training. He is responsible, with the help of other Stephen Leaders, for training the next Stephen Minister class at Parkway in 2013. The Stephen Minister training focuses on Christian caregiving including general topics such as listening, feelings, boundaries, assertiveness, and using Christian resources. In addition, training covers specialized topics such as ministering to the divorced, hospitalized, bereaved, and aging. Stephen Ministers have a two year commitment which includes the training period. We usually train new Stephen Minister classes when we have enough volunteer candidates with the right spiritual gifts We have recently talked with several members interested in receiving Stephen Ministry training and are looking for additional members who may be interested in starting training in 2013.
If you would like more information about Stephen Ministry, become a Stephen Minister, or if you or someone you know might benefit from the care of a Stephen Minister, please contact Pastor Bill Ford, Phone 770-889-8694, E-mail: Bill.Ford@parkway-church.org, or Norman Baker, Stephen Leader, Phone 770-886-0439, E-mail email@example.com or one of our other Stephen Leaders or Stephen Ministers.