What is the Stephen Ministry?
Stephen Ministry is a ministry
that equips lay persons to provide confidential, one-to-one,
distinctively Christian care to individuals who are experiencing a
variety of life needs and circumstances, both within the CLC
congregation and outside of it.
Individuals seeking a Stephen Minister include those who are dealing
with issues involving separation/divorce, job loss, long term/chronic
illness, aging, depression, death, and loneliness.
Who are Stephen Ministers?
Stephen Ministers are members
of Christ Lutheran Church who have gone through 50 hours of training in
providing high-quality Christian care to individuals experiencing a
crisis or challenge such as divorce, grief, loss of a job,
hospitalization, depression, or loneliness, or any variety of trying
circumstances. Stephen Ministers will be assigned a care receiver and
meet with that care receiver for about an hour a week. This caring
relationship will last for as long as the care receiver needs it. If
you would like more information on how to become a Stephen Minister or
to receive care from one, please call the church office. 323-3572.
Who Benefits from Stephen Ministry?
Everybody benefits from
Stephen Ministry. Those receiving care from Stephen Ministers benefit
because they receive prayer and support throughout the crisis they
face. Stephen Ministers benefit through the spiritual growth they
experience from being involved in meaningful ministry. Our pastor
benefits because caring ministry at Christ Lutheran is expanded, and
fewer people will slip through the cracks. Most of all you benefit from
the knowledge that special care is available to you should you need it.
In addition, you now have a place where you can refer a friend,
neighbor, coworker, relative, or anyone else you know who is going
through a difficult time so that they can receive special care when
they need it most. Stephen Ministry makes Christ Lutheran a much more
What will my Stephen Minister do?
Your Stephen Minister will
meet with you regularly (up to once a week typically) in your home or
at the church or a mutually agreeable location. Since Stephen Ministers
are not professional counselors, they are not able to meet with couples
Your Stephen Minister will listen, offer support and encouragement, and
help you express your thoughts and feelings.
Your Stephen Minister will help you think about choices and options and
help you set goals.
Your Stephen Minister will pray for you and with you. Your Stephen
Minister will encourage you to seek spiritual growth and healing.
Your Stephen Minister will meet periodically for supervision with other
Stephen Ministers to get support and guidance about how to provide the
best possible Christian Care for you.
Your Stephen Minister will keep your identity and your conversations in
confidence. When Stephen Ministers meet for supervision, your situation
may be discussed, but never your identity. Unless you're planning to
harm yourself or someone else, you can be assured your conversations
will be kept confidential.
Your Stephen Minister, when appropriate, will recommend you seek legal
or financial counsel, medical care or professional counseling, or other
forms of care that might be helpful in your particular situation. If
you are seeing a professional counselor, your Stephen Minister may ask
you to sign a "release of information" form. When you're receiving care
from more than one person, it's important that they be able to talk
Your Stephen Minister will probably not socialize or talk much about
himself / herself. If Stephen Ministers have had similar experiences
that are relevant to your situation, they may let you know what it was
like for them and what they found helpful. But unlike ordinary
friendships, your relationship with your Stephen Minister will be more
one-sided. The purpose of Stephen Ministers is not to form ongoing
friendships but rather to focus on helping you deal with your
When your particular difficulty has been resolved or your goals have
been achieved, your Stephen Minister will talk with you about putting
an end to your official Stephen Ministry relationship. Sometimes both
people are interested in having an ongoing more mutual friendship.
How can I optimize the benefit of my
Please make every effort to
meet regularly with your Stephen Minister. When you miss appointments
of have infrequent appointments; it's hard to keep a clear focus on
your work together. Please take responsibility and initiative in the
relationship. Don't always wait for your Stephen Minister to call.
Please be honest. Your Stephen Minister is not there to judge, so
please talk as openly as you can about what's really going on and
what's really on your mind.
Realize that you are the key. So much depends on your willingness to
take on the task of growth, your faithfulness in seeking to understand
painful or threatening realities, your courage to bring about change by
taking steps in a positive direction. Don't expect your Stephen
Minister to somehow change you or your situation. Actively seek your
own understanding and change.
During this difficult time, pursue spiritual growth and healing through
worship and prayer, through Bible and devotional reading, through
confession and service to others. You can't change and grow without
God, so ask God to guide you. Seek to know his will and his purpose for
you. Ask God for courage, for insight and wisdom, for healing and for
strength. Seek to cultivate an attitude of hope and trust in God's
ongoing work in your life. [See Philippians 1:6] Let your prayer be
that of St. Augustine: "Grant, Lord, that I might know myself and that
I might know Thee."
If your Stephen Minister recommends you consider additional types of
counseling or other forms of care, please do so. Stephen Ministers
aren't always able to help with all particular needs. You may need to
seek out the assistance of others in addition to your Stephen Minister.
Please realize that your Stephen Minster, while not a professional
counselor, is not an ordinary friend either. Unlike professional
counselors, Stephen Ministers do not have years of training and do not
receive payment for their services. They seek simply to show God's love
by offering Christian care. But unlike ordinary friendships, Stephen
Ministers don't usually socialize or talk much about themselves. Please
understand that their purpose is not a mutual ongoing friendship but
rather to help you on your situation. Their gift to you is the freedom
to focus exclusively on helping yourself. Whether the two of you ever
choose to develop an ongoing friendship or not, their greatest joy is
that you will have moved forward and will one day no longer need an
official Stephen Minister.
Receptivity to Care
Most people are much more open
to giving care than to receiving it. When a person is giving
care, he or she is in a position of strength, stability, and authority.
When a person is receiving care, he or she is acknowledging weakness,
insecurity, and vulnerability.
As a result there are countless people today who, though they really
could benefit from a Christian friend who would listen and care for
them, instead tough it out on their own. They remain the strong silent
type, or wear a smile across a face that is holding back a flood of
tears. Society encourages this (particularly for men). To ask for help
is to admit weakness. To show weakness is to admit inferiority.
Our Stephen Ministers know all about receiving care. Many of them have
been on the receiving end of care at an earlier point in their lives
something that has motivated them to give care now. They know how
difficult it is to ask for help, but they also know the great personal
and spiritual growth and healing that follows. They know how to respond
in a loving, caring, and nonjudgmental manner. They are equipped,
ready, and waiting to provide the comfort and care God very much
desires you to have.
If you find yourself now or in the future facing
difficulties in life, don't succumb to society's norm of remaining
strong and suffering alone. Take the courageous step of seeking help.
Open your heart to receiving God's love and grace through another
person. Our Stephen Ministry offers the opportunity of a very
confidential relationship with someone who will listen to you and
provide you with the care and encouragement you need, while Christ
works inside to bring rest to your weary, burdened heart.
The Importance of Confidentiality in
Confidentiality is a
cornerstone of Stephen Ministry because it is absolutely essential for
building safe, healing, caring relationships...
Stephen Ministry is confidential. Stephen ministers don't reveal what
their care receivers have told them. Not to the pastors, not to the
Stephen Leaders, not to their spouses or friends, and not to other
Why? Because trust is vital for a caring relationship to be effective.
Care receivers are experiencing difficulties that leave them feeling
very vulnerable. Discussing their innermost feelings is an important
step in the healing process. But in order to open up and discuss that
which is troubling them most, care receivers need complete trust in
their Stephen Minister and the assistance that what they say will not
be circulated to others and become news for gossip.
This assurance builds trust and creates a safe place where care
receivers can risk revealing their most painful issues problems they
might not even discuss with close friends or family. Confidentiality
helps create a relationship that promotes healing and hope.
Another aspect of confidentiality is that nobody-except the Stephen
Minister, the care receiver, and the pastor or Stephen Leader who
matched the two together even knows that a care receiver has a Stephen
Minister. Care receivers, of course, are free to tell others about the
relationship and who their Stephen Minister is, but the Stephen
Minister never tells. This means a care receiver can choose to have
complete anonymity so that if he or she doesn't want people even to
know that he or she has a Stephen Minister, nobody will ever know.
One final point involving confidentiality involves the Stephen Ministry
model of supervision, where confidentiality is also a key element.
(Supervision, done twice monthly, is vital to Stephen Ministry so that
Stephen Ministers can provide the best quality care possible to their
care receivers). In supervision the focus of discussion is on the
relationship between the Stephen Minister and the care receiver, rather
than the details of what is going on in a care receiver's life. By not
revealing a care receiver's name or any significant details,
confidentiality is maintained; and supervision becomes a place where
Stephen Ministers can support and encourage one another in ministry
while they provide the best quality care to their care receivers. It's
a model that has enabled life changing ministry to happen in thousands
of Stephen Ministry congregations since 1976.
Why this talk about confidentiality? To build your trust in Stephen
Ministry. It is a high quality care giving ministry that you can count
on should you ever have the need. Confidentiality is a cornerstone of
good ministry and of our Stephen Ministry.
For more information on Stephen Ministry, please contact the church
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