Stephen Ministry is a Christ-centered pastoral ministry driven by lay-people, which offers one-on-one emotional and spiritual support for individuals who are having a struggle in their lives as a result of a crisis.
The nature of the crisis will vary greatly from one individual to the next. The type of help offered, however, is constant. It comes in the form of a distinctive structured friendship marked by its empathy and confidentiality. The caregiver comes alongside the care-receiver and, through weekly visits, walks a journey with the person, providing spiritual and emotional support.
[Caregivers trust that they provide care for a person, but it is Jesus who cures a person].
At no point does this relationship supplant the role of a pastor or healthcare professional. Rather, it fits into the pastoral work of a congregation as a supplement to the more specialized work of a pastor – at a level fitting for trained lay-people to be able to exercise.
Stephen Ministry was founded in 1970 by Kenneth Hauck, a trained pastor and psychologist. who felt overburdened by the pastoral needs he was attending to. He decided to train specific members in the congregation to help meet the needs of those requiring pastoral support. Out of that, Stephen Ministry was born.
Over 13 000 congregations have implemented Stephen Ministry. The headquarters for Stephen Ministry is in St Louis, USA.
The Structure of Stephen Ministry
Five roles make up Stephen Ministry
Who are the care-receivers?
In Stephen Ministry the person experiencing the life-difficulty is known as a care-receiver. Common struggles include:
- A sense of isolation or loneliness or sadness
- A spiritual crisis
- Major medical crisis
- End of life (Hospice)
- Long term illness, chronic conditions and disability
- Financial difficulties
- Major life transition (relocation, blended family, empty nest, retirement, move to assisted living
People who are not the central figure in a crisis, but who are affected by it, are also frequently care-receivers. For instance, the spouse of someone who has a life-threatening illness may receive benefit from being a care-receiver.
Stephen Ministries at St Columba’s
A Christian community where people are well cared for – particularly in times of trial – is a fragrant, appealing witness to Christ’s presence among us, and His Lordship over us.
Stephen Ministry fits into the pastoral limb of St Columba’s ministry. In implementing the ministry, St Columba’s leadership hopes to enhance and broaden the pastoral care that the church offers.
Stephen Ministry will thus be an addition to the pastoral work of the Ministers, and the care offered by the eldership, and the fellowship among us as congregants.
The Church Leadership has adopted an inside-out approach in which the ministry will be available to members, but then hopefully extend as a form of outreach into the community too.