Stephen Ministry

Stephen Ministry

Bear one another's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.  (Galatians 6:2 NRSV)


What is Stephen Ministry?                                           

Stephen Ministry is the one-to-one lay caring ministry that takes place in congregations that use the Stephen Series system.

Stephen Ministry congregations equip and empower lay cargivers - called Stephen Ministers - to provide high-quality, confidential, Christ-centered care to people who are hurting.


How Stephen Ministry Works

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

Stephen Leaders establish and direct Stephen Ministry in a congregation. They 
  • build awareness of Stephen Ministry within the congregation and community
  • recruit and train Stephen Ministers
  • meet with potential care receivers to assess their needs
  • match care receivers with Stephen Ministers
  • provide Stephen Ministers with ongong supervision and continuing education

People learn to serve as Stephen Leaders by attending a Leader's Training Course - a one-week conference that includes the resources used to lead Stephen Ministry, develops key skills, and gets people excited about this caring ministry.  Most congregations begin with two to four Stephen Leaders, typically including a pastor, possibly another church staff person, and one or more lay leaders.

Stephen Ministers

Stephen Ministers are congregation members trained by Stephen Leaders to offer high-quality, one-to-one Christian care to people going trough 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 supervision and continuing education.

Care Receivers

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:
  • The relationship between a care receiver and a Stephen Minister is confidential.
  • Men are matched with men; women with women. 
  • 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.


The Blessings of Stephen Ministry

Stephen Ministry multiplies blessings throughout the church and community.
  • Congregations receive a practical and powerful way to respond to Christ's commandment: "Love one another as I have loved you" (John 15:12 RSV).
  • Pastors have a team of gifted, trained, and committed lay caregivers ready to minister to hurting people.
  • Laypeople nurture and use their gifts in meaningful ministry, growing spiritually as they serve others.
  • People who are hurting have a compassionate companion - a caring Christian friend who provides emotional and spiritual support.


Stephen Ministry Is Built to Last

You'll find Ministry in congregations from more than 170 Christian denominations, across the U.S. and Canada and in 30 other countries.
Stephen Ministry is built to last - going strong for over 20 or 30 years in hundreds  of congregations.

Since Stephen Ministries was founded in 1975:
  • More than 13,000 congregations have enrolled in the Stephen Series.
  • More than 75,000 pastors and lay leaders from those congregations have been equipped at Leader's Training Courses.
  • More than 600,000 laypeople have received Stephen Minister training.
  • More than 1.5 million people have had a Stephen Minister to walk with them, providing one-to-one Christian care during tough times.

used with permission:
You Are Needed
Stephen Ministers are needed.  Do you have the Spiritual Gift of understanding? Do your Fruits of the Holy Spirit include patience, kindness, or gentleness?  Are you a good listener?  Stephen Ministers go through 50 hours of training. Confidentiality is the cornerstone of the Ministry.  Pray and listen. Is the Lord telling you that this is your ministry?

The Numbers
Dr. Kenneth Haugk started the Stephen Ministry in 1975 when he saw a need in for more care than he as a minister could provide his own congregation in Missouri. He felt the solution was obvious: “equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12 NRSV). Since then more than 600,000 people have been trained in 170 Christian denominations in all 50 states plus 10 Canadian provinces and 30 other countries around the world.  More importantly, millions of people have received one-to-one support through Stephen Ministry. 

In 2001, Mrs. Karen Bell attended a Stephen Leader training in order to bring the Ministry to Woodward FUMC.  In that 17 years, she has trained 39 members of our congregation to be Stephen Ministers. They received 50 hours of intense training before being commissioned as a Stephen Minister. They have walked alongside 68 care receivers during those 17 years.  Many others have been helped through sister ministries such as DivorceCare and GriefShare. In 2018, 3 additional people attended a 7-day training to become Stephen Leaders. They were commissioned on Sunday, September 9.

Stephen Ministry - Its Work, Its Goals, and Its Meaning
FUMC Stephen Ministry Team
Front Row:  Karen Bell, FUMC Stephen Leader.  Middle Row:  Kaye Groce, Sandy Craig, Pastor Shannon Davis, Lois Fessler, Tracie Grunewald, Patty McBee, Pam Rogers, Donna Bayliff.  Back Row: Gregg Moore, Jerry McAllister, Ray Blakley. 

New Stephen Ministers
After 50 hours of training through the summer and fall, our team welcomed 3 new Stephen Ministers:  Lois Fessler, Patty McBee, and Tracie Grunewald.  Lois and Patty are both members of the Choir on Fire. Lois is also a member of the bell choir.  Tracie is a Stephen Leader.  Karen was thrilled that Kaye Grace agreed to assist in their Stephen Ministry training. Karen and Pastor Shannon commissioned Lois, Patty, and Tracie on December 8.