Stephen Ministry

By Danielle Keethler

As I contemplated retirement and the end of many years of working with young children, I knew that, in this next season of my life, I wanted to express my faith in a more meaningful way. Admittedly, I was a little intimidated by any ministry that involved someone over the age of six. I had received a phone call or two over the years encouraging me to consider Stephen Ministry. When I would read the occasional blurb in Grace Notes, I felt an undeniable nudge. I didn’t know a lot of the details about the program and hadn’t known anyone who ever participated in it. 

I thought, who am I to offer advice to someone facing an incredibly difficult life transition? What would I say to a teenager whose life has derailed or a man who has lost his job? I was completely ill equipped to help people with their grief or a difficult diagnosis. So rather than stew about it, I looked to the Bible and read stories of others who also felt unprepared for the ministry to which God was calling them. Moses was a stutterer who wasn’t even remotely prepared to be a leader of men. David didn’t seem like the guy who should be called on to beat the giant Goliath. If they could be faithful to the incessant nudge from God, then the least I could do would be to join the Stephen Ministry class.

I immediately got my most urgent questions answered. First, I wouldn’t be offering advice to anyone. Stephen Ministers offer a compassionate listening ear, not a solution. Also, I would never be asked to work with teenagers or men. Care receivers, the term used to refer to those who work with Stephen Ministers, are gender specific. Women work with women, men with men. 

The fifty hours of training is designed to equip you with a deep understanding of a wide variety of life issues. The Stephen System provides a uniquely Christian perspective on life’s challenges. The initial training is followed by monthly continued education and a confidential support group to offer encouragement.

So, nine years ago, I took the leap of faith. Like Moses, I asked God to send me. Since then, I have been privileged to come alongside a variety of women who have come to a difficult crossroad. I have seen firsthand what God can do when you respond to His call. If you might be feeling the same nudge that I felt, I would encourage you to join our next Stephen Ministry training. class beginning September 19. I suspect you will be glad you did! Contact the Church Office (630-355-1748) for more information.