Stephen Ministry is a support structure that helps members care for each other. Stephen Ministers (specially trained members of the congregation) provide one-to-one care to people who are experiencing a crisis or life challenge. First Wayne Street has been home to the Stephen Ministry since 1994. It has been a vital part of our congregation’s caring for each other and for the community. Stephen Ministry offers those in need one-to-one ministry from trained, caring lay ministers who have responded to Christ’s call to “carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”– Galatians 6:2.
A Stephen Minister is a child of God who walks beside a hurting person as a caring Christian friend who really listens. Each Stephen Minister has received 50 hours of caregiving training. A Stephen Minister is not, however, a counselor, therapist, problem solver, or casual visitor. If you have the gift of mercy, encouragement, or intercession, you can be involved with Stephen Ministry in the following ways: 1) pray for our Stephen Ministers; 2) help us stay sensitive to those who need caring support; 3) help make others aware of the support system that is available; and 4) consider God’s direction as to whether you should become a Stephen Minister yourself.
Stephen Ministry can be a wonderful outreach of Christ’s love both to our own members and to the community. In the second chapter of his epistle, James tells us, “Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” He says we need to be “doers of the Word, not just hearers.” The person who receives care from a Stephen Minister no longer has to walk alone through life’s struggles. A Stephen Minister walks alongside this person for as long as he or she needs care, bringing Jesus’ unconditional love and acceptance to the person.
Care receivers often reflect on how close they have grown to Jesus because of the care they received:
I was ready to give up but my Stephen Minister wouldn’t let me. He kept encouraging me and gave me the motivation to keep going.”
I was alone and had no one to turn to. Then I heard about Stephen Ministry. My Stephen Minister became a friend I could really count on.”
I thank God every day for my Stephen Minister. I don’t know how I could have made it through the past year without her!”
All I can say is thank you. My Stephen Minister helped me sort through my challenges and regain my faith in God.”
We’re part of something big.
There are more than 11,000 Stephen Ministry congregations in more than 150 denominations worldwide, and over a half million people have been trained as Stephen Ministers. Dr. Kenneth Haugk, a pastor and clinical psychologist, developed the Stephen Ministry in 1975 when he realized that he alone as pastor could not provide for all of the caring needs in his congregation. Today Dr. Haugk is still the executive director of the Stephen Ministries organization, which is based in St. Louis.
How does someone become a Stephen Minister?
The first step is to pray. God has called each of us to ministry. Prayer is one way to learn which ministry God is calling us to do. As you pray, ask God whether Stephen Ministry is right for you. A related step is to look at the spiritual gifts God has blessed you with. Not everyone has the gifts to be a caregiver. Among other attributes, Stephen Ministers need to be loving, patient, non-judgmental, confidential, prayerful, encouraging and good listeners. A next step is to look at your current responsibilities. Stephen Ministry is a big commitment. Not everyone who has the gifts to be a Stephen Minister can necessarily do so at this point in his or her life. You may be stretched thin already or this might be the time to re-evaluate and prioritize everything you are doing.
Another consideration is to look at your own life circumstances—is now the time? It may be better for you to receive care at this point in your life than to become a caregiver. Some of the best caregivers can be people who have worked through their own brokenness, but usually not when they are in the midst of that brokenness. Talk to one of our Stephen Ministers or Leaders: our Stephen Leaders are Pat Lee, Sarah Phillips, and Don Warner. They can share their own experiences about what it has been like to serve. They can answer most of your questions about training, serving, supervision, continuing education and the time commitment involved.
If you have any questions or would like more information on the Stephen Ministry, please contact the church office. Someone will get in touch with you to help you determine if this is the right time to become a Stephen Minister.