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Frequently Asked Questions

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Why the name Stephen?

In the book of Acts, chapter 6, Stephen was chosen to provide caring ministry to those in need. Since the time of the Apostles, caring ministry has been considered a hallmark of the Christian faith community.

What’s the difference between the Stephen Series and Stephen Ministry?

Stephen Series refers to the complete system—including training, resources, structure, and ongoing support—that congregations use to equip and empower a team of laypeople to provide one-to-one Christian care to hurting people in and around the congregation.

Stephen Ministry is the caring ministry that takes place in a congregation when it implements the Stephen Series system.

How many congregations have Stephen Ministry?

More than 12,000 congregations, from more than 170 denominations, in all 50 states, 10 Canadian provinces, and 29 other countries, have Stephen Ministry. Many of these congregations have had Stephen Ministry going strong for more than 30 years.

See more facts and stats about Stephen Ministry.

Will Stephen Ministry work in my context?

Congregations of all sizes, demographics, and styles are using Stephen Ministry, including—

  • Congregations with fewer than 100 members to more than 10,000.

  • Congregations in urban, suburban, and rural communities.

  • Congregations that consider themselves traditional, contemporary, or emergent.

  • Congregations founded in the 1700s and those planted in the past decade.

Stephen Ministry works in so many contexts because no matter the size, type, or location of a congregation, two factors remain constant:

  1. There are always many more people in need of care, in the congregation and community, than a pastor alone can care for.

  2. There are always gifted laypeople capable of providing high-quality Christian care—if trained and organized to do so.

What are Stephen Leaders?

Stephen Leaders are the pastors, other church staff, and lay leaders who direct Stephen Ministry in the congregation. They are equipped and inspired to serve in this role at a one-week Leader’s Training Course. Stephen Leaders have gifts and skills in areas such as leadership, teaching, and organizing people—along with a heart for caring ministry.

How many Stephen Leaders should we have?

Most congregations begin with two to four, depending upon the size of the congregation and the scope of its ministry.

What is a Leader’s Training Course (LTC)?

A Leader’s Training Course (LTC) is a one-week event where pastors and lay leaders learn the Stephen Series system so they can establish and maintain Stephen Ministry in their congregations.

Find out more about Leader’s Training Courses.

Do people go to an LTC to become Stephen Ministers?

No, the LTC trains people to be Stephen Leaders, the ones who direct Stephen Ministry in the congregation. Stephen Ministers—lay caregivers—are trained in the congregation by their Stephen Leaders.

What are Stephen Ministers?

Stephen Ministers are laypeople trained in the congregation by their Stephen Leaders to provide one-to-one Christ-centered care to hurting people. These are people with a compassionate heart who’ve been equipped with the skills to listen, encourage, and offer support when someone is in need. A Stephen Minister typically has one care receiver at a time and meets with that person once a week.

Find out more about what a Stephen Minister is.

What situations are appropriate for Stephen Ministers?

Stephen Ministry is appropriate for people experiencing

  • grief

  • divorce

  • cancer

  • hospitalization

  • physical rehabilitation

  • long-term care

  • chronic illness

  • terminal illness

  • job loss

  • loss of a home

  • military deployment

  • the onset of a disability

  • loneliness

  • spiritual crisis

  • or other life struggles

What is a care receiver?

A care receiver is a hurting individual who receives care from a Stephen Minister.

Watch several care receivers talk about their experiences with their Stephen Ministers.

Do Stephen Ministers care for people outside a congregation?

Yes. Stephen Ministers often provide care for people in the broader community—relatives, friends, and coworkers of congregation members; nonmembers whom the congregation serves; as well as military personnel and their families. This is a powerful way that Stephen Ministry can enhance and expand a congregation’s outreach.

See more about how Stephen Ministry can be used as outreach.

How many Stephen Ministers should we have?

This will vary depending upon the size, situation, vision, and mission of your congregation. Some congregations have a half-dozen Stephen Ministers, while others have more than 30.

A good starting point is to ask, “How many people need the kind of care Stephen Ministers provide?” Download “A Vision for Beginning Stephen Ministry in Our Congregation”—a practical presentation that explores this question.

Will people commit to training and serving as Stephen Ministers?

Yes! More than 600,000 have done so since 1975. Laypeople are eager to use their God-given gifts in meaningful ministry to others.

How does Stephen Ministry benefit pastors?

Pastors tell us that Stephen Ministry deepens, expands, and extends the caregiving capacity of their congregations. A team of Stephen Ministers, together with a pastor, can provide ongoing care to more people than the pastor could alone. This also frees pastors to invest more time in other important ministry areas.

Learn more ways that Stephen Ministry benefits pastors.

What is a Stephen Ministry Introductory Workshop?

The Stephen Ministry Introductory Workshop is a half-day event where participants experience a sample of Stephen Minister training, learn how Stephen Ministry works and how to bring Stephen Ministry to their own congregation, and catch the vision that God has for their congregation’s caring ministry.

This workshop is a great opportunity to learn about Stephen Ministry, to see firsthand the difference Stephen Ministry can make in your congregation, and to build awareness and momentum.

A few other notes about the Stephen Ministry Introductory Workshop:

What is enrollment?

Enrollment begins a long-term relationship between Stephen Ministries and a congregation. The congregation pays a one-time enrollment fee (with no annual dues or fees to remain enrolled) and receives many benefits, including:

  • A step-by-step system for an effective lay caring ministry

  • Access to high-quality training and resources

  • Free ongoing consultation and support

When should our congregation enroll?

Your congregation may enroll at any time before sending your first leaders to a Stephen Series Leader’s Training Course (LTC). It is best to enroll at least three months before the initial LTC so that you can make effective use of the Stephen Ministry Getting Started Kit. The Getting Started Kit, sent to a congregation right after it enrolls, is a comprehensive set of materials to help with selecting your initial Stephen Leaders, preparing them for the LTC, and building awareness and ownership for Stephen Ministry in your congregation.

If you plan to enroll right before an LTC, please contact us right away so we can help make sure everything goes smoothly in your planning.

For more information, see the Stephen Ministry Implementation Timeline.

What does the Stephen Series cost?

Call us at (314) 428-2600 for current costs on enrolling your congregation and training your first Stephen Leaders. You can also find cost information in our free information packet—contact us if you’d like one or more of these packets.

How many denominations have congregations that use the Stephen Series?

Over 170 denominations are using the Stephen Series. If you are interested in getting Stephen Ministry started in your congregation and would like a free packet of information, or if you want to know more about how Stephen Ministry is being used in different denominations, give us a call at (314) 428-2600.

What does the Stephen Ministry logo mean?

The Stephen Ministry logo tells a story—the story of a care receiver’s journey from brokenness toward wholeness through the cross of Jesus. It is a journey made possible by “Christ caring for people through people,” which is the Stephen Ministry motto.

What is the history and mission of the Stephen Ministries organization?

Stephen Ministries is a not-for-profit, Christian education organization founded in 1975. Our staff of 40 carry out our mission to “equip God’s people for the work of ministry” (Ephesians 4:12). The Stephen Series is a major way we accomplish this mission.