After having had a Stephen Minister, my life is unbelievably different….Even if you know intellectually that God is there, sometimes it feels like it doesn’t matter because there’s noone there to help you. I think Stephen Ministry is a way to actually see help right in front of you. Receiving care from [my Stephen Minister] began the process of me being able to receive care from God.” – Care Receiver“
“It wasn’t about me. It was about listening to her and being with her as she went through something difficult. She would share what she felt comfortable sharing, and if she wanted, I would pray with her. I loved that I wasn’t being asked to fix her problem. I was trained to be an accepting, reliable, and confidential person in her life who she could confide in, who wouldn’t judge her, and who could create a safe space where she could trust God working within her. And it was amazing how she grew! And how my own life was transformed!!!” – Stephen Minister
Through baptism, we are all called to “seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbors as ourselves.” And as Christians in community, we have a responsibility to love and care for each other. And Stephen Ministry is one way Christ Church Cathedral does that.
What is Stephen Ministry? Stephen Ministry is a caring ministry at Christ Church Cathedral that provides training for individuals called to provide one-to-one Christian care to people who are experiencing a life challenge or crisis. And there are 10,000 other congregations all over the world that participate in this ministry of caring with more than a half a million lay people trained as Stephen Ministers since it was founded in 1975! It is not meant to replace pastoral care given by clergy, but rather to support it and to provide the steady, consistent one-to-one follow-up care – for 3, 6, 9, even 12 months – that clergy want to, but simply cannot provide.
Who is the Leadership Team and what do they do? The Stephen Ministry Leadership Team at CCC (Betty Whaley, Donna Worth, Esteban Rubio, Jen Hund, Rey Marrs, Tom Kryder-Reid, and Steve Whaley) will have all trained at a weeklong training course by Spring 2018. This team will recruit and select members of the CCC congregation to be Stephen Ministers through September and early October 2017. Then, for 50 hours beginning in November 2017, the team will train Stephen Ministers in general topics like listening skills, feelings, assertiveness, and boundaries, and specialized topics like how to use prayer and other Christian resources or how to minister to someone experiencing grief, divorce, a terminal illness, and more.
In Spring 2018 with help from the clergy, a member of the Leadership Team will begin to pair up each Stephen Minister with a member of the congregation or larger community who needs care. The Stephen Minister will meet regularly with their Care Receiver in a private setting. This is a confidential ministry. The only people who know the identity of a Care Receiver are their Stephen Minister, the Stephen Leader who paired them, and the clergy person who made the referral. Nobody else knows – not even the other Stephen Ministers or Stephen Leaders!
In this ministry of care, Stephen Ministers also receive care. Each month, Stephen Ministers gather for continuing education, supervision, and support. Stephen Ministers are always learning, growing, and enhancing their caregiving ability.
Who benefits from Stephen Ministry? The benefits of Stephen Ministry are experienced by the person receiving care, the clergy, the Stephen Minister, the entire congregation, and our larger community.
- The person receiving care does not walk alone – their Stephen Minister walks alongside for as long as necessary, bringing Jesus’ unconditional love and acceptance to the person.
- The clergy know that quality Christian care is being provided and that this responsibility does not rest solely on them. With a successful Stephen Ministry, clergy witness a congregation fulfilling its baptismal covenant of caring for one another.
- The Stephen Minister encounters tremendous growth both personally and spiritually through the training, and by seeing Jesus work through their relationship to change the life of another person.
- The entire congregation knows that it is a caring community, and that has a ripple effect. A community that cares demonstrates hospitality, generosity, love, and compassion, and they encourage others to do the same. If you know someone facing a difficult situation, you can refer them to Stephen Ministry and trust that that person will be cared for.
- The larger community that experiences Christ’s love in a significant way through CCC grows in faith and reaches out with love to others.
What do Stephen Ministers do, and what don’t they do? Stephen Ministers listen, accept, care, and walk with a person who is going through a difficult time. They provide support – prayer, Scripture, forgiveness, unconditional acceptance – in appropriate ways to meet the needs of the care receiver. And they commit to being involved in the ministry for 2 years.
Stephen Ministers are not therapists or counselors. They do not give advice or tell people how to solve their problems. While they are concerned that the care receiver’s physical needs be met and will help connect the person with ministries, organizations, or agencies that can meet those needs, Stephen Ministers are not there to run errands, do shopping, cook, clean, or provide transportation. The Stephen Minister’s role is to care and listen, standing by the person and ministering to his or her spiritual needs as God works through the relationship to bring hope and healing to the care receiver.
What is your role in Stephen Ministry? As a member of CCC, you have a responsibility to care for the community. And Stephen Ministry asks that you do that in 6 specific ways:
- Pray. Stephen Ministry is Christ caring for people through people. It relies on God’s help to do the ministry it’s called to do. Please pray for the clergy, Stephen Leaders (Betty, Donna, Esteban, Jen, Rey, Steve, and Tom), Stephen Ministers, Care Receivers, and CCC.
- “May God bless Stephen Ministry as it cares for others, and give it wisdom as it considers how Stephen Ministry might deepen and expand Christ Church Cathedral’s ability to bring Christ’s healing love to hurting people.”
- Be the Eyes and Ears of Jesus. When you notice a need for care, talk to that person, let him or her know you care, tell them about Stephen Ministry, and bring it to the attention of clergy and/or Stephen Leaders.
- Make CCC a More Caring Place. Continue being warm, welcoming, hospitable, and compassionate. All of this helps promote a caring, nurturing environment!
- Support Stephen Ministry. Learn about it, talk about it positively, and respect the confidential nature of caring relationships.
- Be Receptive to Receiving Care. It’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help. God created us not only to give help to others but also to receive help when we need it. At some point in life, everyone faces some kind of difficulty and could benefit from the care of a Stephen Minister.
- Be Involved. Always keep your heart and mind open to becoming involved in Stephen Ministry. Now may not be the right time and you may not feel called now, but pray for an open heart so that you can follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit, whatever it may be.
How do I learn more and apply? Perhaps you’re not sure if you’d be a good Stephen Minister. Maybe you feel a pull, but Stephen Ministry is new to you and you have questions. You can learn more by speaking with CCC clergy or any member of the Stephen Ministry Leadership Team. If you don’t know any of the Leadership Team personally, please contact Jen Hund, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Rey Marrs, email@example.com.
As you discern if you are called to be a Stephen Minister, consider the following:
- Discover Your Spiritual Gifts. Each CCC ministry requires its own particular set of spiritual gifts. Stephen Ministers need to be loving, patient, non-judgemental, confidential, prayerful, and encouraging, as well as good listeners. If this sounds like you, please give prayerful consideration to becoming a Stephen Minister.
- Assess Your Current Responsibilities. Stephen Ministry is a big commitment. Even if you have the spiritual gifts necessary to be a Stephen Minister, this may not be the right time in your life. Or, this might be the right time to reevaluate and prioritize everything you are doing so you can make the two-year commitment to Stephen Ministry.
- Look at Your Life Circumstances. Is now the right time? If you are in the midst of your own challenge, it is probably 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 a Stephen Leader or Stephen Minister. One of the best ways to find out exactly what is involved is to talk with a member of Stephen Ministry. They can share personal experiences (without divulging confidential information) and answer most of your questions about training, serving, supervision, continuing education, and the time commitment involved.
- Fill Out a Stephen Minister Application. Potential Stephen Ministers go through an application, interview, and selection process. One of the reasons is so the Stephen Leaders can look at all the above factors with you and help you determine whether Stephen Ministry is right for you at this time in your life. Click Click here to download a Stephen Minister Application and email it to Tom Kryder-Reid (firstname.lastname@example.org) .