STEPHEN MINISTRY www.stephenministries.org
What Is Stephen Ministry?
Stephen Ministry is the one-to-one lay caring ministry that takes place in congregations. Stephen Ministry congregations equip and empower lay caregivers—called Stephen Ministers—to provide high-quality, confidential, Christ-centered care to people who are hurting.
Stephen Ministry is appropriate for people experiencing grief, divorce, cancer, hospitalization, physical rehabilitation, long-term care, chronic illness, terminal illness, job loss, loss of a home, military deployment, the onset of a disability, spiritual crisis, and other life struggles.
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 support and continuing education
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 support 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 resource.