Important Questions and Answers about Stephen Ministry
What is Stephen Ministry?
Stephen Ministry is a complete system for organizing, training and supervising a team of congregation members to provide high-quality, one-to-one, Christ-centered care to people experiencing life difficulties in the congregation and in the surrounding community. Stephen Ministries St. Louis is the not-for-profit Christian organization founded in 1975 that produces training and resource materials that equip congregations to begin and sustain their Stephen Ministries. Their training materials are comprehensive in their practicality, psychological integrity, and theological depth.
What is a Stephen Minister?
A Stephen Minister is a lay congregation member trained with others to provide one-to-one care to persons of the same gender who are experiencing a difficult time. Stephen Minister relationships are process oriented rather than goal oriented with the Stephen Minister providing safe space for the care receiver to process what he/she/they is going through currently. The Stephen Minister is the caregiver and only God is the Curegiver. Examples of times when a Stephen Minister could be helpful for a care receiver include times of recent loss of a loved one, divorce, unemployment, chronic or terminal illness, aging, difficulties with starting or adding to a family, military deployment, onset of a disability, spiritual crisis, fatigue of being a caregiver, or unwanted relocation. Stephen Ministers come from all walks of life, but they all share a passion for bringing Christ’s love and care to people during a time of need.
Note: Stephen Ministers are not counselors. They are trained Christian caregivers. Their role is to listen and care—not counsel or advise.
Why is Stephen Ministry healthy for the life of a congregation?
While our pastor will always be our frontline caregiver, a team of Stephen Ministers extends the amount of ongoing consistent care the pastor and congregation members can provide. Also, Stephen Ministry helps lay people recognize that God is calling them to ministry, helps them identify and nurture their gifts, and allows them to use those gifts in meaningful ways. And finally, it also promotes a more “care conscious” community. Members come to understand that we all share the responsibility of looking out for those who might benefit from care and helping to connect them with the care they need. In this way, the congregation lives out its mission to model Christ’s unconditional love.
What is required of Stephen Ministers?
Stephen Ministry uses an illustration similar to a compass to describe essential qualities that should guide Stephen Ministers’ caregiving. The chi-rho symbol at the center of the compass serves as a reminder that the love and sacrifice of Christ is the guiding light of Stephen Ministry. The four directions of the compass are replaced by the qualities all Stephen Ministers should nurture as they commit to caregiving ministry. They are to be full of faith, trustworthy, compassionate and skilled. Many skills are taught in the Stephen Ministry Course, but it is also important that Stephen Ministers participate in the faith and life of the church, that they maintain confidentiality, that they strive to model the compassion of Jesus, and that they participate in valuable peer supervision and brief continuing education modules each month.
What is involved with Stephen Minister Training?
The Stephen Ministry training consists of 20 learning modules that are taught during 21/2 hour classes once a week over the course of 5 months. It also includes one retreat toward the end of the course. It is an engaging, energizing experience that features a mixture of presentation, video, group discussion, skill practice, and spiritual growth activities. Stephen Minister training:
- teaches principles and skills that equip you to provide high-quality, Christ-centered emotional and spiritual care to others.
- gives you new insight into the thoughts, feelings, and actions of people who are hurting.
- equips you with relational and caring skills you can apply to all aspects of your life.
- helps deepen your faith as the Holy Spirit fashions you into a Christ-centered caregiver.
- builds a special bond of Christian community and camaraderie among all those in your class.
- is highly interactive and engaging.
Stephen Ministry Training will begin on Tuesday, September 21, 2021 at 6:30pm. Contact Rev. Connie Clark by calling the church office, 434-973-2054, or Ann Michel at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a meeting time if you feel called to become a Stephen Minister.