Everyone has experienced some kind of life challenge - the loss of a job, death of a loved one, loneliness, illness, or divorce. Many people struggle alone, but this was never God's intention. In Galatians 6:2, we are told to "Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ." This is why being in fellowship with other Christians is so important. Many people are loved and cared for in small groups, but others may not have any support at all. In either case, Stephen Ministers are trained and willing to help people who are struggling and need individualized care.
What is the Stephen Ministry?
In 1975, Dr. Kenneth C. Haughk, a pastor and a clinical psychologist, developed training for caregivers who could assist him in providing "distinctively Christian care" to members of his congregation. After training nine people to be Stephen Ministers, these enthused caregivers encouraged Dr. Haughk to offer the Stephen Ministry training to other congregations. Today, there are over 500,000 Stephen Ministers in the United States, Canada, and 23 other countries. Our dream is to eventually have hundreds of Stephen Ministers serving our church family.
How did Stephen Ministry get its name?
Stephen Ministry was named after Stephen found in Acts 6:5 who was the first layperson commissioned by the Apostles to provide a caring ministry to those in need, particularly the widows.
Who are Stephen Ministers?
Stephen Ministers are spiritually mature members of our congregation, many who have experienced and overcome difficulties in their own lives. Because of God’s grace and the love of people who have helped them heal, they have been called to serve others with "distinctively Christian care" in their time of need. After committing to two years of service and completing 50 hours of training, a Stephen Minister is commissioned by church leadership then assigned care receivers – one at a time – who have been referred. Men care for men; women care for women. They attend a peer supervision group twice a month for support, accountability and guidance. They also attend three continuing education classes a year to enhance their caregiving skills and keep their ministry relevant.
What do Stephen Ministers do?
• Meet with their care receivers once a week for about an hour and may also check in by phone depending on the complexity of needs.
• Listen – really listen – as their care receivers talk through their difficulties.
• Reflect what they hear from care receivers, ask open-ended questions, and help care receivers recognize, express, process, and accept their feelings.
• Remain process-oriented. Stephen Ministers do not try to fix care receivers or their problems. Stephen Ministers focus on the caregiving process and rely on God to achieve the results.
• Relate assertively and maintain boundaries. Stephen Ministers respect both care receivers and their needs while setting appropriate boundaries in the caring relationship so care receivers remain as independent as possible.
• Recommend professional care when necessary. Stephen Ministers are not counselors. Therefore, they are not trained to care for those who have mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, addictions, abuse, suicidal tendencies, etc. If Stephen Ministers recognize that the needs of their care receiver exceeds the care they are able to provide, they refer them to a mental health professional.
• Maintain confidentiality. Care receivers need to know that what they say to the Stephen Minister will remain in confidence. The only exception is when a care receiver expresses suicidal or homicidal thoughts.
• Pray daily for their care receivers asking God to support them, to resolve the difficulty, to achieve the desired spiritual growth, and to remind them of His presence.
How do I request a Stephen Minister or get information about Stephen Ministry for someone who may benefit from one?
Contact a Stephen Ministry leader by calling 703-770-4398 or sending an email to email@example.com.