Stephen Ministry is a lay caring ministry being used in over 13,000 congregations across the United States, Canada, and 30 other countries. With Stephen Ministry, congregations equip and empower a team of laypeople called Stephen Ministers to provide one-to-one, Christ-centered care to people experiencing grief, divorce, serious illness, unemployment, hospitalization, financial stress, or other life difficulties.

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Questions and Answers about Stephen Ministry

What Is Stephen Ministry?

Stephen Ministry is a ministry in our congregation in which trained and supervised laypeople, called Stephen Ministers, provide one-to-one Christian care to individuals facing life challenges.

Who Is Involved?

Stephen Leaders are the ones who oversee and direct our Stephen Ministry. They recruit, select, train, organize, and supervise our Stephen Ministers; identify people in need of care; and match them with a Stephen Minister. We have four Stephen Leaders: Sue Erickson, David & Gini Duval, and Skip Bye.

Stephen Ministers are lay caregivers. They have engaged in high-quality training in Christian caregiving, including topics such as listening, feelings, boundaries, and assertiveness.

Care receivers are the recipients of Stephen Ministers care. They are people from our church or community who are experiencing grief, loss of a job, divorce, loneliness, illness, or other life difficulties. Stephen Ministers meet with their care receivers once a week for about an hour for as long as the care receiver needs it.

What Do Stephen Ministers Do?

Stephen Ministers are caring Christians who listen, understand, accept, and pray for and with care receivers who are working through a difficult time in life.

Are Stephen Ministers Counselors?

Stephen Ministers are not counselors; they are trained lay caregivers. Their role is to listen and care, not to give advice. Stephen Ministers are also trained to recognize when a care receiver’s needs fall outside what they are equipped to provide, at which point they help connect the care receiver with the appropriate outside resource.

Why the Name Stephen?

The name Stephen comes from St. Stephen, who was the first layperson commissioned by the apostles to provide caring ministry to those in need (Acts 6).

Does the Pastor Still Have a Caregiving Role?

Pastors will always be the primary caregivers, and Stephen Ministry provides them with support in their caring ministry. God has called all of us, not just pastors, to minister to one another. Stephen Ministry multiplies ministry by equipping laypeople to provide care while pastors handle the caring needs they can best address.

Where Did It All Start?

Stephen Ministry has been around since 1975, when Kenneth Haugk, a pastor and clinical psychologist, began it to multiply the caregiving in his congregation in St. Louis, Missouri. We have had Stephen Ministry here at St John Lutheran Church since 2014.

How Can Someone Receive Care from a Stephen Minister?

Sue Erickson is our Stephen Leader who coordinates referrals. If you or someone you know could benefit from the care of a Stephen Minister, you can talk to her, one of our pastors, or any of our other Stephen Leaders. Any of our Stephen Ministers would also be happy to help you through the process. (If you want to talk about Stephen Ministry for someone else, make sure you get his or her permission first.)

How Can I Become a Stephen Minister?

Begin by talking to one of our Stephen Leaders or Stephen Ministers, and they can tell you more. We usually train a new class of Stephen Ministers as needed.

What Does the Stephen Ministry Logo Mean?

The broken person behind the cross symbolizes the brokenness in our lives due to our sin and imperfections. The whole person stands in front of the cross because it is only through the cross of Jesus that we are made whole. The circle symbolizes both the wholeness we receive through Christ and God’s unending love for us.