An Inside Look At Stephen Ministry:

Stephen Ministers are lay Christians selected, trained, and supervised by their congregation’s Stephen Leaders to provide effective, one-to-one Christian care to others.

Stephen Ministers are well trained to provide effective Christian caring ministry to people in need. They receive 50 hours of initial training and, after they begin providing care, receive continuing education to further enhance their caregiving skills.

After Stephen Ministers are trained and receive their caregiving assignments, they meet in small groups with their Stephen Leaders twice a month for supervision.

Stephen Ministers also visit local hospitals once a week while there, they use their caregiving skills in visiting with church members.


Stephen Ministry began in 1975 when the Rev. Kenneth C. Haugk, Ph.D., a pastor and clinical psychologist, trained nine lay persons at his congregation in St. Louis to be Stephen Ministers. They assisted him in providing distinctively Christian care to members of the congregation and community. These trained caregivers were so enthused about their ministry, they encouraged Dr. Haugk to offer Stephen Ministry to more congregations.

Over the next few years, Dr. Haugk traveled to congregations and trained Stephen Ministers. This quickly proved to be inefficient, since he could visit only a limited number of congregations. These congregations also were dependent on him to train additional caregivers. There also was little organizational structure to supervise Stephen Ministers after they were trained. So in 1978 Dr. Haugk held the first Stephen Series Leader’s Training Course and trained the first Stephen Leaders – representatives of various churches who then returned home to train and supervise their congregation’s Stephen Ministers. Since that time Stephen Ministries St. Louis has specialized in “equipping the equippers” through the Stephen Series ministry system.

How The Stephen Series Works

Leaders from a congregation attend a seven-day Leader’s Training Course, taught by the Stephen Ministries St. Louis faculty, to learn how to implement and direct the Stephen Series in their congregations. These trained Stephen Leaders then return to their congregations to set up and administer a Stephen Ministry program.

Stephen Leaders recruit and select lay people from the congregation to serve as Stephen Ministers and provide them with 50 hours of training in Christian caregiving. Some of the training topics include listening, feelings, assertiveness, confidentiality, and ministering to people in specific situations such as divorce, terminal illness, grief, and childbirth. Stephen Ministers also are trained to recognize when a care receiver’s needs go beyond the care a Stephen Minister can provide and where and how to refer the care receiver for additional care.

Upon completion of the training, these lay persons are commissioned as Stephen Ministers. Stephen Leaders then link each Stephen Minister with a care receiver-a member of the congregation or community who is in need of quality Christian care. A Stephen Minister normally is assigned to only one care receiver at a time and meets with the care receiver for an average of about one hour each week.

Stephen Ministers also meet twice monthly for peer supervision and continuing education. Stephen Ministers initially commit to two years of service, but after those years many recommit to serve additional years.

Important to Note:

Stephen Ministers are not counselors. They are trained Christian caregivers. Their role is to listen and to care – not to counsel or advise.

Stephen Ministry is a supervised ministry. Stephen Ministers engage in twice-monthly supervision to ensure that they are providing the best quality Christian care for their care receivers.