As we conclude our Undone series, we want to draw attention to a crucial ministry at Crossings designed to walk with our congregation through sorrow, suffering, and setbacks: Congregational Care. This week, we hear from Pastor of Congregational Care, Lance Ward, and learn more about the wide scope of this incredible ministry.
Weathering the Storms
Lindsey Bumgardner is no stranger to ministry at Crossings, serving as a group leader in High School Ministry for over seven years. Last summer, however, an invitation to Stephen Ministry caught her eye, so she decided to attend an informational meeting.
She discovered that a Stephen Minister is someone who has been equipped to walk with people in the church who are experiencing a season of transition or hardship that disrupts the normal course of life. Each Stephen Minister has received over 50 hours of training and agrees to care for people in such seasons, through gender-specific, confidential relationships.
Committing to Christ
The most significant thing for Lindsey was the way the training itself helped her grow in her relationship with Christ and in fellowship with others. “I attended the informational meeting and decided to commit, but I had no clue how God would use this experience to change my life, not just in my care-giving relationships, but in my family, as well. God used the training to soften my heart, especially in the way I view
others. I also learned how to listen and read body language more effectively, especially through the various training drills we experienced.”
One of Stephen Ministry’s main emphases is “process-oriented ministry,” where future caregivers are trained not to solve people’s problems, but to simply walk with them through their hardships. In other words, a Stephen Minister is the “care-giver,” while God is the “cure-giver.”
“In my training,” Lindsey says, “I learned that everyone is struggling, and often they just need someone to walk into their lives who won’t judge them or try to fix their problems, but will simply love them, listen to them, and be there for them. I’ve also learned that caring for others in their hard times can be one of the most rewarding things we do as Christians. When we are called to serve someone in this way, the satisfaction of doing so is an incredible reward within itself!”
Practicing Being Present
When asked what type of person could benefit from a Stephen Minister, she replies, “I believe almost anyone going through a tough time or significant life-change should check it out. It could be someone who is ill or adjusting to a difficult health diagnosis. I don’t think it necessarily involves something traumatic, but could just apply to anyone having a hard time adjusting to a new stage of life.”
She continues, “I love to tell people about my experience of training with a great group of other Crossings people and being equipped to practice the ministry of presence. I am so thankful I heard about Stephen Ministry, and I’m thrilled to use what I learned, not only in my care-giving relationship, but in my home and church relationships, too!”
Training to Be Present originally published by Lance Ward, Pastor of Congregational Care, in the Fall 2015 magazine. You can read the full magazine and download a copy through our app or our magazine page.