Are you interested in learning more about yourself and how to care for others? The Befriender Ministry here at McFarland Lutheran Church will provide you with training to learn about self-care and care-giving. You will be encouraged to consider using your befriending skills to care for others in this congregation and community.

The Purpose of the Befriending Training:

To develop a program within McFarland Lutheran Church that will foster greater sharing of ministry between the church staff and the trained volunteers.

The Goals of Befriender Training:

  • Our basic goal is to become Christian caregivers using Jesus as a model.
  • To provide training and encouragement for McFarland Lutheran members who wish to expand the roles of lay ministry.
  • To extend our understanding of the joys and pain of life and growth in the interdependent human condition we share.
  • To learn the dynamics of giving and taking help to promote an attitude of health and wholeness in life.
  • To discover a theological basis for agape, Christlike love.
  • To meet needs for supportive caring throughout professional care.
  • To identify services through caring networks in the community.


Befrienders are People Who:

  • Have a natural capacity to care, share, and be open
  • Are developing intentionally, skills in communication.
  • Will work closely with others in expanding the care-giving ministry of McFarland Lutheran Church.
  • Make themselves available to those who are hurting and , if necessary, link them up with the appropriate community resources.


The Befriender Training Program

Befriender training begins in the Fall with an all day retreat in McFarland or nearby. Approximately twenty sessions are held during the evening at McFarland Lutheran Church. A mid-winter Saturday retreat is often held in early January.

The Befriender Training Coordinator(s) plans the weekly presentations. Instructors are selected on the basis of their understanding of the topic to be discussed.

Presentations are based on topics such as the following:

  • Communication Skills
  • Giving and Taking Help
  • Problems of Growing Older
  • Illness and Hospitalization
  • Grief and Loss
  • Terminal Illness/Death
  • What It’s Like to Be Different
  • Accountability and Confidentiality
  • Celebration of Gifts
  • Family Life Styles
  • Mental Illness
  • Crisis, Stress, and Stress Management
  • Alcohol/Drug Abuse & Effect on Family


The History of Befrienders

The Befriender Ministry was originally developed by Hospital Chaplain Marlin Whitmer in Davenport, Iowa. It was used by Chaplain Whitmer to train lay people in hospital visitation.

The program came to the Dane County area under the sponsorship of Madison Urban Ministry and the leadership of Alice M. Schacht and Pastor Pribbenow.

Pastor Lund began with the Befriender Ministry in 1980 at Bethel Lutheran Church in Madison, Wisconsin and brought the Befriender Ministry to McFarland Lutheran Church 1992. From 1992 until his retirement in 1997 there were over 100 people of McFarland Lutheran Church that completed the training and subsequently are reaching out in love and sharing some of the pastoral ministry with those with whom they come in contact.

Most gratifying has been the discovery of many gifts among our lay people that otherwise would not be used in the service of Christ.

As each person takes the training, helpful insights are received on where that help best serves in the Kingdom. In learning more about ourselves we are able to grow in love and compassion toward others.

Another important result is the sense of oneness and purpose. We find ourselves joined in a common mission and with the prayer that God will be glorified.


  • “I would describe the Befriender program as a tool for being a helping person - it broadens your own horizons and makes you a more complete person.”
  • “If only every Christian member of the Church could experience the Befriender spirit which I’ve encountered.”
  • “I sense a closeness to fellow members in our Befriender Group - sharing of many personal things.”
  • “Words cannot convey the deep feelings I have for this program. The genuine love, concern, and compassion cannot be measured - it has been a growing experience for all of us. I encourage everyone to become a part of this great lay ministry.”
  • “I felt I could not reach out with enough love to touch some of these problems - but that was the beauty of Befrienders.”
  • “I see more of both the suffering in others and how nice people can be. I’ve been forced to look harder.”
  • A person who was Befriended said, “I was sick and you understood and I felt God’s love from within you.”


If you are interested in Befriender Training please contact our church office at 608-838-3184 or complete the sharing your time and talents form.

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