Eighteen members of Baptist Temple Church, San Antonio were commissioned as Stephen Ministers this Sunday, January 19. A Stephen Minister provides one-on-one distinctively Christian care to hurting people in and around the congregation. While they are not therapists nor lay counselors, they do receive 50 hours of initial training followed by peer supervision and continuing education.
Stephen Ministry will strengthen our church by providing direct care to people going through a difficult time. I have heard too many stories of hurting people who felt abandoned by their church.
A Stephen Minister would meet with this hurting person for an hour a week; providing a listening ear and shoulder to cry on for as long as it takes.
Furthermore, our church is strengthened by training and deploying church members to apply their spiritual gifts in service to our Lord. Both the care giver and the care receiver grow in faith as a result.
Stephen Minister Rosalinda Acosta said, “The Stephen Ministry training was so incredibly intense while, at the same time moving. The presence of God was so strong at times. I could feel the Lord impressing into my spirit that the main element, the main purpose of a Stephen Minister is to show the love of God to those in a dark and lonely place, a place of despair, confusion and perhaps helplessness.”
A phrase often heard in Stephen Ministry is, “We are the care givers, God is the cure giver.”
Stephen Ministers do not “fix” people. They listen without judgment and maintain strict confidentiality. Even the fact that someone has a Stephen Minister is confidential. Their training includes listening, feelings and confidentiality. Through reading, lectures, case studies and role playing, Stephen Ministers learn how to help people in specific situations. These include divorce, terminal illness, grief, and childbirth.
Stephen Ministers are found in over 13,000 churches representing 183 denominations. Texas, at 1042, is the state with the largest number of Stephen Ministry churches.
Baptist Temple is part of a family of seven churches and twelve service organizations sharing a campus to meet the physical and spiritual needs of our community.