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Frequently Asked Questions

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Why the name Stephen?

In the book of Acts, 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 is the overall ministry system—including training, resources, structure, and ongoing support—used by congregations 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 happens when a congregation  implements the Stephen Series system.

How many congregations have Stephen Ministry?

More than 13,000 congregations have Stephen Ministry—representing over 170 denominations, all 50 states, all 10 Canadian provinces, and 30 other countries, have Stephen Ministry. Many of these congregations have had Stephen Ministry going for more than 30 years.

See more facts and stats about Stephen Ministry.

Will Stephen Ministry work in my context?

Stephen Ministry works well in congregations of all sizes, demographics, and styles, including—

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

  • Congregations in urban, suburban, and rural communities.

  • Congregations that are mainline, evangelical, missional, and non-denominational.

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

Stephen Ministry works in so many different situations because two factors are constant for every congregation:

  1. There are always many more people in need of care, both 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 members, and lay leaders who are equipped to direct Stephen Ministry in their congregation. 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, other church staff members, and lay leaders are equipped to serve as Stephen Leaders. They learn the Stephen Series system so they can establish and lead Stephen Ministry in their congregations.

Find out more about Leader’s Training Courses.

Does the LTC train people to become Stephen Ministers?

It doesn’t—the LTC trains people to be Stephen Leaders, the ones who direct Stephen Ministry in the congregation. Stephen Leaders then train members of their congregation to serve as Stephen Ministers and provide care.

What are Stephen Ministers?

Stephen Ministers are laypeople trained to provide one-to-one Christ-centered care. They have a compassionate heart for those who are hurting, and they’ve been equipped with caring ministry skills by their congregation’s Stephen Leaders. A Stephen Minister typically has one care receiver at a time and meets with that person once a week to listen, care, pray, encourage, and offer emotional and spiritual support.

Find out more about what a Stephen Minister is.

In what types of situations do Stephen Ministers provide care?

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

  • 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, enhancing and expanding a congregation’s outreach in a powerful way.

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—and 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 supports pastors by deepening, expanding, and extending 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 provide 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 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 represents a care receiver’s journey from brokenness toward wholeness through the cross of Jesus. In this way, it illustrates “Christ caring for people through people,” which is the Stephen Ministry motto.

What is 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). Helping congregations get involved in the Stephen Series is a major way we accomplish this mission.