Brainerd is a registered Stephen Ministry congregation.
Although Stephen Ministers are not degreed professionals, such as clergy, therapists or counselors, they are well-trained Christian volunteers. A Stephen Minister commits to serve a two year period as a caregiver within a congregaion. They relate to personal situations of bereavement/grief, chronic illness, discouragement or loneliness, divorce or separation, loss of employment or vocational change, and/or relocation, and also serve those related to individuals affected by such issues.
Please read more about the Stephen Ministry.
What Stephen Ministers Do
A Stephen Minister visits one individual of the same gender who is going through a stressful life situation, and is called a care receiver. The length for each weekly visit (approximate one hour) is agreed upon prior to the beginning of the service, but it may be changed to shorter or longer as needed for brief periods when both individuals agree. The initial commitment for service to the Stephen Ministry is for two years. Many relationships continue as friendships beyond the period of ministry.
There are also leadership opportunities within the Stephen Ministry system. Some individuals remain active as Stephen Ministers past the initial two year commitment.
During the service period, the Stephen Minister (care giver) listens in a non threatening confidential way as the care receiver explains what he or she is experiencing. The care giver is trained to ask questions to help the individual develop a broad understanding of the problem. This in turn gives the care receiver the opportunity to develop his or her own unique plan to work through the situation with the support of a Christian who has become a friend in deed. This caring relationship is to last until both agree that resolution has occurred.
Stephen Ministers also participate in a peer group supervision session twice a month. Supervision will be discussed under the Supervision and Confidentiality tab on this part of the Stephen Ministry page when available.
Who the Stephen Ministers Serve
The Stephen Ministry serves people who are going through a typical life crisis that causes stress. A degree of stress in life is normal, but when things that cause stress are increased above what is normal, coping can be a trial. Such difficulties are usually negative, but on occasion positive events such as an employment promotion can even cause stress.
Studies have been done to not only list some of these typical life crises that cause stress, but to categorize them and to rank them in terms of severity. Some of the categories are: health, work, financial, and family.
The Rahe’s Life Changes Stress Test rates a minor stress factor of 20 for a minor purchase, moderate for the birth or adoption of a child with a factor of 66, or a more severe stress factor of 96 for a divorce. Although there is much that goes into how different individuals react to such events, when several of them happen simultaneously, trusted support is a wonderful asset.
A church minister is an ideal line of support in such cases, but he or she is only one person whose time may be limited. Stephen Ministers are trained to help in such cases. They are not professional counselors or therapists, but rather trained, confidential, nonthreatening listeners of Christian compassion. Each Stephen Minister is assigned only one care receiver at a time. They are to visit together for approximately one hour a week with a degree of flexibility as needed.
Stephen Ministers do not serve children or youth, individuals who are clinically depressed, suicidal, abused or abusive. They do not provide transportation or do household tasks. They are there as supportive listeners who are Christians.
 Richard H. Rahe, MD., “Life Changes Stress Test.”