First United Methodist Church, Oak Ridge, TN
Friday, May 24, 2013
Growing in faith and love through worship, discipleship, and service.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is the program called Stephen Ministry?
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).
How and when was Stephen Ministry started?
Stephen Ministry began in 1975 when the Rev. Kenneth C. Haugk, Ph.D., a pastor and clinical psychologist, trained nine lay persons at his congregation in St. Louis (Missouri) to be Stephen Ministers. They assisted him in providing distinctively Christian care to members of the congregation and community. These trained caregivers were so enthused about their ministry, they encouraged Dr. Haugk to offer Stephen Ministry to more congregations. Over the next few years, Dr. Haugk traveled to congregations and trained Stephen Ministers. This quickly proved to be inefficient, since he could visit only a limited number of congregations. These congregations also were dependent on him to train additional caregivers. There also was little organizational structure to supervise Stephen Ministers after they were trained. So in 1978 Dr. Haugk held the first Stephen Series Leaders’ Training Course and trained the first Stephen Leaders- representatives of various churches who then returned home to train and supervise their congregation’s Stephen Ministers. Since that time, Stephen Ministries in St. Louis has specialized in "equipping the equippers" through the Stephen Series ministry system.
How many Stephen Ministers are there?
More than 7,000 congregations are enrolled in the Stephen Series (the system for training and organizing Stephen Ministers). These congregations represent 90 different Christian denominations and come from all 50 states, 9 Canadian provinces, and 18 other countries. More than 33,000 individuals (pastors, church staff, and lay persons) have been trained as Stephen Leaders at Leaders’ Training Courses. These Stephen Leaders have returned to their congregations to train more than 250,000 lay persons to be Stephen Ministers.
How does the Stephen Ministry work?
Pastors, church staff, and lay leaders from a congregation attend a seven-day Leaders’ Training Course, taught by the Stephen Ministries St. Louis faculty, to learn how to implement and direct the Stephen Series in their congregations. These trained Stephen Leaders then return to their congregations to set up and administer a Stephen Ministry program. Stephen Leaders recruit and select lay people from the congregation to serve as Stephen Ministers and provide them with 50 hours of training in Christian caregiving. Some of the training topics include listening, feelings, assertiveness, confidentiality, and ministering to people in specific situations such as divorce, terminal illness, grief, and childbirth. Stephen Ministers also are trained to recognize when a care receiver’s needs go beyond the care a Stephen Minister can provide and where and how to refer the care receiver for additional care. Upon completion of the training, these lay persons are commissioned as Stephen Ministers. Stephen Leaders then link each Stephen Minister with a care receiver – a member of the congregation or community who is in need of quality Christian care. A Stephen Minister normally is assigned to only one care receiver at a time and meets with the care receiver for an average of about one hour each week. Stephen Ministers also meet twice monthly for peer supervision and continuing education. Stephen Ministers initially commit to two years of service, but after those years many recommit to serve additional years.
What does the Stephen Series logo stand for?
The logo Stephen Ministry congregations use consists of a cross and circle, together with a broken person and a whole person. The broken person stands behind the cross, symbolizing the brokenness in our lives as a result of our sin. The whole person stands in front of the cross because it is through the cross of Jesus that we again are made whole. The circle symbolizes both the wholeness we receive through Christ and God’s unending love for us.
Are Stephen Ministers counselors? Are they supervised?
Stephen Ministers are not counselors. They are trained Christian caregivers. Their role is to listen and to care – not to counsel or advise. Stephen Ministry is a supervised ministry. Stephen Ministers engage in twice-monthly supervision to ensure that they are providing the best quality Christian care for their care receivers. Stephen Ministry is also a confidential ministry. What a care receiver tells a Stephen Minister remains confidential. Even in supervision, the names of care receivers and specific details are never discussed. Stephen Ministers do not make cold calls. They are assigned only to care receivers who agree to receive the care of a Stephen Minister.