Over the last several weeks, our Bible in a Year readings have had us walk through the book of Job. A book unlike any other, Job hits on a topic we are all familiar with: suffering. Questions are raised when God is all-powerful and all-good, and evil and suffering are all too real.
Without getting into the subtleties of this area of theology, known as Theodicy, I want to point to something Zion Lutheran Church is going to do to give Christ’s peace and comfort to those who are going through events and periods of time horrifyingly reminiscent of Job. Early last month, I attended a Stephen Ministry Leadership Training Conference in downtown Pittsburgh. For fifty hours, I learned how to train and lead a Stephen Ministry at our church. Long story short, Stephen Ministers (which are different from Stephen Leaders) meet with people who are going through difficult times to provide Christ-centered care in a formal “caring relationship.” Some examples of people who might benefit from a Stephen Minister are a surviving spouse, someone with a long-term illness, a parent whose last child has gone off to college, the unemployed, a new parent, a person who has experienced spiritual, physical, mental, financial or relational hardship. (Stephen Leaders link “care receivers” with “care givers” and oversee continuing education classes and routine meetings of the Stephen Ministers.)
The training to become a Stephen Minister is extensive (50 hours total), but, having gone through the training seven years ago, I can tell you that it is worth every minute! Not only does Stephen Ministry training prepare you for being a Stephen Minister, it equips you to be a better listener and care-giver in your existing relationships.
We are going to be having a couple of informal Informational Meetings for those who would either like to know more about Stephen Ministry or who are considering going through Stephen Ministry Training. The first of these Informational Meetings will be on September 2nd following Bible Study (11:15) in the Undercroft of the Church. The second meeting will be at 7:30pm on Monday, September 10th in the Conference Room in the Church basement.
Please prayerfully consider if this ministry is something you would like to do, or is something you believe God is calling you to do.
Grace and Peace,
Pastor Duncan McLellan