Stephen Ministry is a group of dedicated, trained, supervised Christians called Stephen Ministers. Stephen Ministers are not counsellors; they are trained lay care-givers. Their role is to listen and care - not to give advice or counsel. They provide free, quality, one-to-one Christian care including: crisis care, follow-up care and supportive care. Stephen Ministers listen, understand, accept, and pray for you as you go through a struggle or life challenge. They are also trained to recognise if your needs exceed what they can provide. If so, your Stephen Minister will work with you to help you find the level of care you really need.
Trust is essential to any caring relationship, and Stephen Ministers are people you can trust. Confidentiality is one of the most important principles of Stephen Ministry, and what you tell your Stephen Minister is kept in strictest confidence. Care is always given on a same-gender basis: men meet with men, women meet with women.
The name Stephen comes from St. Stephen, who was the first lay person commissioned by the apostles to provide caring ministry to those in need (as recorded in Acts 6).
Stephen Ministry began in 1975 and is now found in more than 12,000 congregations from more than 160 Christian denominations, in all US states, 10 Canadian provinces, and in 29 other countries. More than 70,000 pastors, church staff, and lay-persons have been trained as Stephen Leaders (those who oversee and direct Stephen Ministry in the congregation) at a Stephen Series Leader's Training Course. More than 600,000 people have trained as Stephen Ministers in their congregations. Finally, more than one-and-a-half-million people have received care from a Stephen Minister in a formal one-to-one Stephen Ministry caring relationship, and millions of others have received care from Stephen Ministers in informal ways.