Caring That Counts

Chris Barnett

"He doesn’t know where he’d be if those people hadn’t been there for him."

Q. What is the Stephen Ministry and what is the role of a Stephen Minister?

Stephen ministry is a one-to-one, christ-centered ministry that walks beside individuals that are facing a specific crisis in their life. Confidentiality is paramount in this ministry and we strive to provide a non-judgmental environment. Stephen Ministers are not licensed counselors or church staff, but each Stephen Minister has 50 hours of training. Stephen Ministers typically meet with their Care Receiver one hour a week for one-to-one support. Males walk with males and females walk with females. We also meet in supervision groups with fellow Stephen Ministers for accountability twice a month.

Q. What attracted you to look into serving with the Stephen Ministry?

Well, a big part of it is because of my story and what I have walked through in my past.

In my early 20's I dealt with depression, anxiety, and sleep deprivation. This led to isolation and I had to face what was going on on the inside and identify what was broken. I felt like God had turned his back on me. I was in a pit.

Over time I was able to confide in my good friend Thomas and Pastor of the church I attended at the time. They were both mature believers and knew everything about me. I could say anything and knew that I could trust them. Through those relationships, I learned God wanted me to rely more on Him and not others. It was a long season of healing but I learned that God would carry me through my depression and anxiety and give me a mind of peace. If it hadn't been for Thomas or my Pastor supporting me, I wouldn't have gotten through what I did.

In 2012 I moved to Texas for work. During my time there I was introduced to a ministry called, Freedom Ministry, which helps teach people to hear God's Voice. I ended up going through that ministry training to become a Freedom Minister. The training teaches you to allow God to do the work, and that it's not necessary that you have the right answers, but that my job was to point people whom I was walking alongside back to God and ask "What are you hearing from Him?"

When I look back at my life I can see how God was laying out stepping stones that would bring me to want to get involved in Stephen Ministry.

Q. How did you hear about Stephen Ministry?

A. I knew about Stephen Ministry through my mother-in-law. In 2017 when they started to recruit for the new training season I just felt led to apply and see what would happen.

Q. What was training like?

Once you apply and go through a short interview, you then have about 50 hours of training. I would meet with other trainees once a week for a few hours for 4 months. In that time I was equipped to serve, learning about what is distinctive about Christian care, reflective listening, role-play different scenarios, and learn the difference between result-oriented and process-oriented conversation. I also formed some great relationships with my fellow trainees that I still have today.

Q. As a man, do you find that it's challenging for other men to come forward who might benefit from having a Stephen Minister?

I know that in my past it was really tough for me to open up but once I did it was the best thing I ever did for myself. It's easier for men to talk about cars or hunting, but not what's hurting. From my own experience, there is peace and healing that comes in God's perfect timing when you choose to take the brave step of being vulnerable and allow others to into your life. God didn't design us to walk this life alone especially when you find yourself in a pit and think there is no way out. I would encourage all men that if you are in a tough season with work, with your family, with your marriage, with your health, consider getting a Stephen Minster who would be honored to come alongside you.

Q. Has there been a benefit in your own life by serving with the Stephen Ministry?

A. I believe that God has gifted me with the ability to humbly connect with people of all walks of life. I get the sense that people trust me and God opens doors for me to speak into tough situations. I want to see hurt Men just like I was getting be on the other side. I know it can happen. Stephen Ministry has been a huge blessing in my life and has taught me more about God's heart for the hurting and His unconditional love and timing to pull you out of the pit.


Stephen Ministry at NMC

Our Stephen Ministers are trained to work with a variety of physical and emotional situations, such as illness, grief, self-esteem, finances, faith issues, and many more. If you are dealing with any of these, you may need a Stephen Minister.

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