At times, life is a difficult journey for just about every person. Many need, now and then, a caring companion who will listen, empathize, and be a living witness of a caring community.
• Are you or someone you know struggling with life’s challenges?
• Would you or someone you know like someone to talk to?
• BeFriender Ministry is a parish resources ready for just such a need
• A BeFriender Minister is a volunteer who enjoys one-to-one (person-to-person) caring ministry.
A Befriender Is Someone Who
• Listens with compassion
• Accepts people as they are
• Respects another’s spiritual journey
• Embodies the caring presence of God
SOMEONE WHO CARES ABOUT YOU. . .
Some of the benefits to the person being befriended will probably include feeling:
- Not Alone
- Listened To
- Cared For
- Inner Strength
At Bethel Lutheran Church, specific training is required for BeFriender Ministry. It includes topics such as Grief and Loss; Spirituality; Confidentiality; and Communication.
BeFriender ministers are trained in listening and supportive skills.
Since the early 1980s, BeFrienders have been providing skilled pastoral care in churches throughout the nation.
This is a national ecumenical ministry with its main office in Minnesota.
The BeFriender Ministry has been a strong part of Bethel Lutheran Church for over 2 years. During this time many parishioners have used this parish resource in support of their individual situations. Many Bethel members have trained and become BeFrienders.
For information and assistance, contact Pastor Jim Gustafson at 701-642-4472, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Pastor Jim is Bethel’s coordinator for BeFriender Ministry.
Frequently Asked Questions:
What is BeFriender Ministry? BeFriender Ministry is a lay pastoral care program. Trained lay persons enter into caring relationships with those in need of pastoral care, providing emotional and spiritual support.
Who are the people in our faith community who need a BeFriender? Anyone experiencing grief, loss, transition or other concerns due to:
- A single parent struggling with raising children
- Job loss/career change
- Divorce or separation
- Buying/losing a home
- Cancer or chronic illness
- Financial concerns
- Parenting challenges
- Death of a loved one
- Getting married
- Stress of care giving
Benefits of the BeFriender Ministry for the person befriended
- Support from the faith community
- Trained, compassionate listener
- Insight into his or her own values, strength, wisdom
- Empowerment to make choices, move forward
How do BeFrienders do this? BeFrienders provide a nonjudgmental listening presence to those they visit.
How much counseling is involved in befriending? BeFrienders are not counselors and do not give advice.
Are BeFrienders expected to solve problems? BeFrienders listen; they do not solve problems or impose solutions. BeFrienders also discern with those they visit whether referrals to professionals or other agencies are appropriate.
How long does the training last? A BeFriender candidate receives more than 20 hours of training and serves a short internship before becoming a BeFriender.
What topics are covered in training? The training addresses issues such as listening, grief and loss, spirituality, and confidentiality. Many of the skills learned are applicable to any relationship in a person’s life in addition to BeFriender relationships.
Being a friend seems natural, so why is training necessary? Being a friend does come naturally to many people. However, skills such as active listening and offering respectful, nonjudgmental responses can benefit from training. BeFriender Ministry training enhances gifts and qualities the person already has. And God always has more in store for us to learn!
Is there ongoing support for BeFrienders? Yes. BeFrienders meet regularly in supervised small groups for reflection on their ministry and continuing education.
Does the BeFriender Ministry provide volunteers opportunities for spiritual growth? Yes. BeFrienders learn to appreciate both the commonality and individuality among people. Respect for others is deepened, as is awareness that we are called to be fully present to each other, not only in this ministry but also in all parts of our lives. BeFrienders often gain a deeper understanding of unity in Christ by learning to more deeply value the experience and perspective of each person they encounter.
What do BeFrienders do? BeFrienders are trained to provide a listening presence to others, not to be experts in whatever situation they might encounter. BeFrienders accept people as they are without telling them how they should be, listen with compassion without giving advice, and allow others to make their own decisions without trying to decide for them.