Stephen Ministry is one-to-one Christian care available to hurting people in and around our congregation. It is administered by lay persons who have been trained in the Stephen Series of training. In Stephen Ministry congregations, lay caregivers (Stephen Ministers) provide one-to-one Christian care to the bereaved, hospitalized, terminally ill, separated, divorced, unemployed, relocated, and others facing a crisis or life challenge. Stephen Ministry helps pastors and congregations provide quality caring ministry for as long as individuals need it.
Who Benefits from Stephen Ministry?
People Who Need Care...
- Receive quality, Christ-centered, confidential care for their hurts and needs
- Find hope, healing, and a new sense of self-worth through the support of a Stephen Minster
- Know they are remembered and supported by their congregation in times of personal difficulty
- Receive ongoing care for continuing needs long after the onset of a crisis, when many others have forgotten about them
- Grow in a deeper relationship with their Lord as they experience God's unconditional love for them through their Stephen Minister
- No longer shoulder the entire burden of caring in the congregation, as if the pastor were the only one able, willing, or called to do this ministry
- Receive support and care from the lay people who are part of the congregation's Stephen Ministry Team
- Reach more members of the congregation with quality Christian care
- Experience renewed joy and satisfaction as they equip others and so extend the reach of their own ministries
- Have more time to focus on the ministries that only the pastor can do
The Lay People...
- Discover, cultivate, and use the spiritual gifts they have been blessed with
- See themselves as active partners in the mission and ministry of the church
- Find all aspects of their lives enriched by the distinctively Christian caregiving skills they learn and practice
- Experience great joy as they see God working through them to bring hope and healing to a hurting person
- Grow spiritually as they experience the Lord's loving presence in community with other Christian caregivers
The Entire Congregation...
- Discovers that many members want to be involved in meaningful ministry and will respond to the call to become a Stephen Minister or Stephen Leader
- Becomes a more loving community that is more sensitive and responsive to people's needs for care
- Is able to provide more quality Christian care, so that fewer people slip through the cracks
- Is able to reach out to the unchurched who are hurting and introduce them to the healing love of Jesus in their time of need
- Sees itself as not only being served by the pastor, but as a caring body of believers actively involved in serving one another in love
How Did Stephen Ministry Get Started?
- Stephen Ministry began in 1975
- The name Stephen comes from St. Stephen, who was the first lay person commissioned by the apostles to provide caring ministry to those in need (as recorded in Acts 6)
- Stephen Ministry is in more than 9,000 congregations in more than 100 Christian denominations. Besides Mauldin UMC, local Stephen Ministry congregations include Simpsonville United Methodist Church, St. Giles Presbyterian Church, and St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Church.
- More than 50,000 pastors, church staff, and laypersons have been trained as Stephen Leaders (those who oversee and direct Stephen Ministry in the congregation)
- More than 450,000 people have trained as Stephen Ministers in their respective congregations
- More than a million people have received care from a Stephen Minister in a formal one-to-one Stephen Ministry caring relationship, and millions of others have received care from Stephen Ministers in informal ways
How Is Stephen Ministry Started and Facilitated?
- Congregations enroll in the Stephen Training Series, giving them access to extensive training, resources, and ongoing support from Stephen Ministries, St. Louis
- The pastors and lay leaders who will lead Stephen Ministry in the congregation attend a one week Leader's Training Course where they are equipped by the faculty of Stephen Ministries, St. Louis to serve as Stephen Leaders
- Stephen Leaders work to recruit, select, and train individuals in the congregation to serve as Stephen Ministers
- Stephen Leaders assign Stephen Ministers to people with needs for care. Stephen Ministers meet with their care receivers for about an hour per week for as long as the person needs this level of care
- Stephen Ministers participate twice per month in supervision and continuing education with their Stephen Leaders
- Congregations continue the outlined steps as often as necessary to continue making Stephen Ministry a vital and lasting ministry