FAQs about BeFriender Ministry

In what settings would I find the BeFriender Ministry program?

BeFriender Ministry is found in churches, healthcare institutions (such as hospital chaplain departments), and long-term care facilities (such as nursing homes).

Which denominations have BeFriender Ministry programs?

BeFriender Ministry values ecumenism. Programs can be found in Catholic, Lutheran, Methodist, Episcopal, Presbyterian, and other Christian churches.

Can BeFriender Ministry be implemented in churches of any size?

Yes. BeFriender Ministry is a very adaptable program. It exists in congregations numbering fewer than 200 to more than 2,000 members.

How much time do leaders need to invest to ensure a successful program?

While each setting will be somewhat different, program leaders will collectively invest 20 hours of time per month in the program. This includes regular small group meetings with BeFrienders, as well as periodic one-to-one supervision.  

Where and when does training for BeFriender Ministry leaders take place?

The "Foundations for BeFriender Ministry" workshop is offered several times each year in the Saint Paul-Minneapolis area. It is occasionally hosted in other cities throughout the U.S. For a current schedule and locations, go to the online calendar.

Who attends training ?

Leadership teams from churches, healthcare institutions, and long-term care facilities attend the 4-day workshop "Foundations for BeFriender Ministry." The leadership team is comprised of a pastor and/or other paid staff person with ultimate responsibility for the ministry. One to three volunteer lay leaders are also included on the team.

Each person (program leader) who attends the "Foundations" workshop receives a comprehensive set of materials that provides everything needed to implement and maintain the ministry.

Information about forming a leadership team can be found in the document titled "Getting Started."

What is the cost of the program?

The initial costs are the registration fee for the "Foundations" workshop and travel, meal, and lodging costs associated with attending the workshop. There are no enrollment or annual fees. Materials for training BeFriender ministers are available from the BeFriender Ministry National Office. A current list of materials can be found on the order form. Most other expenses are at the discretion of the leadership team; for example, costs for continuing education and for publicizing the ministry within their setting. As the program grows or when there is turnover within the leadership team, new program leaders will need to attend the "Foundations" workshop.

What other services are provided?

Program support provided by the national office includes:

  • Materials for training lay ministry candidates

  • Consulting, by phone or in person

  • On-site training or consulting

  • Customized training

  • Regular e-mail updates

  • Continuing education

How much time will lay ministers invest?  

An average  BeFriender's time commitment is as follows:

  •   Approximately 21 hours of initial training

  • At least 4 hours for internship

  • A suggested minimum of 2 hours per month in ministry

  • Regular small group meetings (2 to 2 hours every 2 to 3 weeks)

How are lay ministers held accountable for their ministry on behalf of the church?

Confidentiality is of utmost importance in BeFriender Ministry and is covered extensively in training. Each participant is expected to honor this requirement. BeFrienders are accountable to their program leaders and the  staff.

How does a lay person become a BeFriender?

After someone expresses an interest, he or she is interviewed by a program leader. After the interview, they discern together about the next step.  If they decide that the person's skills, attitudes, and abilities are a match with those needed by a BeFriender, the person becomes a candidate and participates in candidate training and serves an internship.  At the end of the training and internship,  the candidate and program leader discern together once again. If the ministry is suited to the person's gifts and situation, he or she will become a commissioned BeFriender. Also see "About BeFrienders."



2007 BeFriender Ministry - A Listening Presence