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 by building awareness, recruitinng and training Stephen Ministers, meeting with potential care receivers to assess their needs, matching Care Receivers with Stephen Ministers, and providing 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:
- 1) The relationship between a Care Receiver and a Stephen Minister is confidential.
- 2) Men are matched with men; women with women.
- 3) 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.