• (314) 428-2600

The Bridge Leader’s Training Course (BLTC)

Interactive online training to fully equip laypeople, church staff, and pastors as Stephen Leaders

Stephen Ministry has always been a highly effective way to provide care, and now the need is greater than ever. To help current Stephen Ministry congregations strengthen their ministry and to empower other congregations to begin Stephen Ministry, we’re happy to introduce:

The Bridge Leader’s Training Course (BLTC) . . .

  • Provides a way to get Stephen Leaders trained during the gap between now and when in-person Leader’s Training Courses can safely resume again.

  • Delivers a high-quality training experience that engages participants with a variety of interactive teaching methods.

  • Fully equips laypeople, church staff, and pastors with the knowledge, skills, and tools to lead a thriving Stephen Ministry.

  • Provides dedicated time to work with others from your congregation, as well as people from other churches, so you can build on one another’s insights and experiences.

  • Offers spiritually enriching community through Devotion Groups that meet at the beginning of each session for prayer, worship, and fellowship.

  • Provides trainees with ideas they can put into action right away after every session.

  • Equips, encourages, and inspires participants to lead every aspect of their Stephen Ministry in confidence and faith.

Training Format

  • Participants are grouped in cohorts of about 20 people from congregations across the US and around the world.

  • Each cohort is led by two experienced trainers from Stephen Ministries St. Louis, allowing for individualized attention.

  • The training consists of 10 interactive online sessions of 2½ hours each, including devotional time at the beginning of each session and a 15-minute break at the midpoint.

  • Each session blends presentation, slides, discussion, video, breakout activities, question-and-answer time, and more for a highly engaging training experience.

Bridge Leader’s Training Course Schedule

The typical BTC schedule involves two sessions a week for 5 weeks or one session per week for 10 weeks.

Five-week cohorts may be on a Monday/Wednesday or Tuesday/Thursday schedule, with different cohorts meeting in the morning, afternoon, or evening. Ten-week cohorts meet on Friday mornings. Sessions are delivered via Zoom.

New cohorts start on a regular basis and fill up quickly.

What Participants Are Saying about the BLTC

“The training format works great! It gives me time to prepare for each session and to work with our leadership in planning to implement this ministry.”

Howard Birdsong | First Baptist Church | Neosho, Missouri

“As a mom who has young children at home and runs a business, being able to do this training online was really a blessing for me. Plus, it’s allowing my congregation to get this ministry started now instead of waiting.”

Carissa Bartholomew | Redeemer Lutheran Church | West Lafayette, Indiana

“If you’re considering Bridge Training, I say go for it! Even with the rest of the class behind a screen, you won’t feel alone—you’ll have ample access to your coach and make close bonds with your classmates. The experience is well worth it!”

Laura Stacy | West End Community Church | Nashville, Tennessee

“The time went by so fast! The variety of teaching techniques and group discussion times, with both our own team and leaders from other churches, kept things interesting and helped me take in everything I needed to know. Thank you for providing Bridge Training.”

Pastor Len Peake | Bethel Bible Chapel | Sault Ste Marie, Ontario, Canada

“The whole training has been really enjoyable for me. I’m not as computer savvy as other people, but Stephen Ministries makes it so easy—I just push a button and I’m there! Plus, the Coach and the Assistant Coach are so organized, down to earth, and easy to talk to. I feel completely comfortable asking for advice or any questions I have. It’s been a wonderful experience.”

Paula Bain | Saint Francis Parish | Dracut, Massachusetts

“The training was comprehensive and perfectly executed—it didn’t miss a beat!”

Jan Kinsel | Cross Evangelical Lutheran Church | Yorkville, Illinios

Who Teaches the BTC?

Each group of BTC participants receives personal, hands-on training from a coach and assistant coach from Stephen Ministries’ staff. The trainers draw on their years of experience with teaching and implementing the Stephen Ministry system to provide the best possible online equipping to meet your team’s needs, preparing you to successfully lead your lay caring ministry.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Bridge Leader’s Training Course the same as the Leader’s Training Course—just online?

Although both events serve the same purpose of training Stephen Leaders, there are several differences between the Bridge Leader’s Training Course and the Leader’s Training Course.

  • The BLTC takes place over five or ten weeks, with one or two 2½-hour sessions per week, whereas the LTC is a one-week training event with multiple sessions per day.

  • The training material covered in the BLTC, while similar to the content of the LTC, has been adapted and is presented differently to work effectively in an interactive online learning environment

  • Because the BLTC class size is smaller than the LTC—about 20 people instead of several hundred—the teaching style of the BLTC is focused on small groups, while the LTC is geared more toward larger groups

  • BLTC participants work closely with one coach and assistant coach for all ten sessions, while LTC participants learn from a variety of presenters over the course of the week

Both events, however, are the same in one important way: They’re both insightful, engaging, enjoyable experiences that will fully equip you to lead and oversee your congregation’s Stephen Ministry.

What do Stephen Leaders do?

Stephen Leaders:

  • publicize, educate, and cast a vision for Stephen Ministry in their congregation

  • recruit, select, and train Stephen Ministers

  • connect Stephen Ministers with people who need care

  • provide ongoing supervision and continuing education for Stephen Ministers

  • keep Stephen Ministry vibrant and strong

Who should participate in the Bridge Leader’s Training Course?

The Bridge Leader’s Training Course is for church staff, lay leaders, and pastors from your congregation who will serve as your Stephen Leaders—the team that will oversee and lead your congregation’s Stephen Ministry.

Stephen Leader trainees come from a wide range of congregations—large and small; urban, suburban, and rural; from the US, Canada, and beyond—representing many denominations.

  • Congregations just beginning Stephen Ministry usually start by having two to four leaders trained.

  • Congregations with an established Stephen Ministry train additional leaders as needed to grow their leadership team and keep their ministry strong and healthy.

If I’m not a trained Stephen Minister, can I still participate in the training?

Yes! You don’t have to have Stephen Minister training to be trained as a Stephen Leader, because the two roles are very different and involve different gifts and skills. People who have no experience as Stephen Ministers often make excellent Stephen Leaders. Typically, more than half the people who participate in Stephen Leader training have not been trained as Stephen Ministers.

Does the Bridge Leader’s Training Course train people to be Stephen Ministers?

The Bridge Leader’s Training Course does not train Stephen Ministers. Rather, it trains Stephen Leaders, the ones who will lead Stephen Ministry in the congregation. Stephen Ministers are trained in their own congregations by Stephen Leaders.

What resources do Stephen Leaders use?

During the Bridge Leader’s Training Course, your congregation’s Stephen Leaders learn how to use the Leader’s Manual and other key resources to build and maintain a vibrant, strong, and long-lasting Stephen Ministry. When you register for the Bridge Leader’s Training Course, you’ll receive a Bridge Training Resource Packet with essential materials you’ll learn to use during training.

To Learn More . . .

Call Stephen Ministries St. Louis at (314) 428-2600 and ask to speak with a member of the Distance Learning Team.

To Register . . .

The Bridge Leader’s Training Course is available to members of congregations that are enrolled in Stephen Ministry.

  • If your congregation is not yet enrolled, contact us for information about how to start Stephen Ministry in your church.

  • If your congregation is already enrolled, call us at (314) 428-2600 and ask to speak with a Bridge Leader’s Training Course Registrar. They can provide you with the most up-to-date schedule and available training course slots.