What Is Stephen Ministry?
Bear one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ (Galatians 6:2, NRSV).
Stephen Ministry is the one-to-one lay caring ministry that takes place in congregations that use the Stephen Series system.
Stephen Ministry congregations equip and empower lay caregivers—called Stephen Ministers—to provide high-quality, confidential, Christ-centered care to people who are hurting.
How Stephen Ministry Works
The best way to understand how Stephen Ministry works is to learn about three groups of people involved in this ministry: Stephen Leaders, Stephen Ministers, and care receivers.
Stephen Leaders establish and direct Stephen Ministry in a congregation. They—
- build awareness of Stephen Ministry within the congregation and community
- recruit and train Stephen Ministers
- meet with potential care receivers to assess their needs
- match care receivers with Stephen Ministers
- provide Stephen Ministers with ongoing supervision and continuing education
People learn to serve as Stephen Leaders by attending a Leader’s Training Course—a one-week conference that introduces the resources used to lead Stephen Ministry, develops key skills, and gets people excited about this caring ministry. Most congregations begin with two to four Stephen Leaders, typically including a pastor, possibly another church staff person, and one or more lay leaders.
Stephen Ministers are congregation members trained by Stephen Leaders to offer high-quality, one-to-one Christian care to people going through tough times. A Stephen Minister usually provides care to one person at a time, meeting with that person once a week for about an hour. Twice a month, Stephen Ministers gather with their Stephen Leaders for supervision and continuing education.
Care receivers are people—congregation members and others in the community—who receive care from a Stephen Minister. These are people struggling through a difficult time in life—experiencing grief, divorce, job loss, chronic or terminal illness, or some other life crisis.
Some important guidelines for this caring relationship protect both the care receiver and the Stephen Minister:
- The relationship between a care receiver and a Stephen Minister is confidential.
- Men are matched with men; women with women.
- When a care receiver’s needs exceed what a Stephen Minister can provide, the Stephen Ministry team makes a referral to an appropriate mental health professional or other community resources.
For more information about Stephen Ministry in general go to www.stephenministries.com.
First United Methodist Church Trussville’s Program
We have chosen and trained five people who are extremely motivated to lead this ministry in our church. We have sent them for training by the staff of Stephen Ministry out of St. Louis, Missouri. They are Rev. Jesse Shaddix, Rev. Joe Dewitte, Kathy Roskam, Stuart Garner, and Will Northern. Plans are to include the entire community as well as our congregation in this vital ministry.
We currently have four trained Stephen Ministers, as well as the five Leaders. Three of the Ministers have completed one successful encounter with their care receivers. Between the Leaders and Ministers there are four still engaged in care giving relationships. Of course, that means we have four available to engage in a caring relationship.
We also have recruited two others who will be beginning training in January. They will be participating in the 50 hours of training and then they will be commissioned to avail themselves to a care giving relationship with someone who needs a friend to walk with them through a period of crisis in their lives.
Please be in prayer for our leadership, ministers and students as we continue in this ministry. Also, pray for those who could benefit from this one on one caring ministry as well as your own participation in the ministry.
For more information about your church’s involvement in Stephen Ministry contact:
Jesse Shaddix 205-516-1899 firstname.lastname@example.org
Joe Dewitte 205-665-3259 email@example.com
Or any of the other Leaders.