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The Stephen Ministry …Walking Beside Those in Crisis
By Rock Church - November 8, 2005

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.Psalm 147:3

Are you hurt and brokenhearted? Have you been wounded by someone or something? There is only one true Healer, and it is Almighty God. However, one of the ways the Lord heals us is through others. In John 13:34, Jesus commands the body of believers to, Love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.

So, if you are broken and just can’t imagine going through it alone another day, you don’t have to. The Stephen Ministry exists to provide distinctively Christian care to hurting and troubled people. Its mission is to equip God’s people for spiritual growth and Christ-centered, practical ministry to those in need.

Who’s Stephen?

Every day, all around us, people are hurting and need to know God's love
Every day, all around us, people are hurting and need to know God's love

The Stephen Ministry was founded in 1975 by Reverend Kenneth C. Haugk, Ph.D., a pastor and clinical psychologist who saw a tremendous need in his own church for pastoral care for hurting members of his congregation. The name “Stephen” comes from Saint Stephen, who was the first layperson commissioned by the Apostles to provide caring for those in need. Acts 6

Haugk soon realized the needs of those in his church were far greater than his ability to meet them. So, he decided to train “ordinary church people” to provide one-on-one Christian care to those in need. These “lay caregivers”, as they are called, stand ready to offer God’s love through a Christian caring relationship on a one-on-one basis. They meet with the person in need once a week for one hour for as long as it takes healing to occur.

Haugk’s ministry was so successful that other churches wanted to begin Stephen Ministries of their own, which is exactly what Pastor the Rock did in 2001.

In partnership with the national organization, Pastor Mark Henning and then later Pastor Tommy Moseley began training interested church members to become lay caregivers. As it stands now, the Stephen Ministry has 140 trained caregivers. The training session is a 12-week course and is offered by the Rock twice a year.

According to Pastor Moseley, whether you want to be a Stephen Minister or not, you can benefit from the training. And you don’t have to be a psychologist or counselor. All that is required is a desire to spread the love of Christ to those in need.

What the Ministry Is and Isn’t

The Stephen Ministry exists to provide those going through crisis with someone who can come alongside them be there to listen, encourage, pray and talk. And it is not just “big” needs that qualify.

“If it’s your need,” says Pastor Moseley, “it is not little.”

The types of needs that are met by the ministry include bereavement, hospitalization, terminal illness, separation or divorce, unemployment, relocation, etc. Anyone facing a crisis or just experiencing difficult times is welcome to call the church and will be referred to a Stephen Minister.

However, not every need may be met by the Stephen Ministry. For example, if you call the church with a marital problem, you will be connected with Rock Counseling Coordinator Cari Blanchard, who will schedule an appointment for you to meet with a pastor, lay counseling couple, or refer you to licensed Christian counselor.

Stephen Ministers are not qualified to diagnose or give you professional advice, nor are they there to fix your problems. They are simply there to be there for you and give you biblical guidance. Oftentimes, a person in crisis will be set up with a Stephen Minister who has gone through similar circumstances and may understand what that person is going through and serve as proof that our gracious Lord will get you through it!

You Can Be a Stephen, Too

God can use you to encourage and minister to and others
God can use you to encourage and minister to and others

According to Pastor Moseley, Stephen Ministry has an adequate number of lay caregivers to meet the current needs of the Rock body. However, our church is growing, and whether you work in the ministry or not, Stephen Ministry training is a gift which can be used to help anyone.

For example, you may have a friend, relative or co-worker in need. With Stephen Ministry training you can spread the healing power of Christ’s love. The great benefit of giving Christian care to others is that we are fulfilling one of Christ’s commands. Matthew 22:34-40

Such obedience always brings blessings—to ourselves and to those we help. Second, the person in need receives help that will make a lasting difference in his or her life. In fact, Pastor Moseley says that often those who receive Stephen Ministry help move beyond their problems and become lay ministers themselves, passing on to others what was given to them.

And it is not just believers or Rock Church members who can benefit from the ministry. Pastor Moseley says the church often gets calls from unsaved people who are plagued with difficulties. The church will then refer them to a pastor or a Stephen Minister. Many people who come forward at altar calls also have needs that are met through the Stephen Ministry.