Stephen Ministry – Is It for You?

Stephen Ministry – Is It for You?

Author: Rev. Nikki Perrine Passante
August 12, 2020

When I began the interview process with you all in October of last year, one of the many things that became clear to me was this church’s desire for Stephen Ministry. I will share freely to anyone who will listen: It will be my greatest joy to work with you all to bring Stephen Ministry to First Presbyterian Church in Haddonfield!

Stephen Ministry is a lay caring ministry that is currently found in over 12,000 congregations across all denominations. I first need to share that it is of utmost importance to know that Stephen Ministers do not fix people, nor do they fix people’s problems. Being a Stephen Minister means that you allow Christ to use you. Our motto is ‘Christ Caring For People, Through People.’ Most often, that means listening. Actively listening. I know – it sounds like doing nothing. What I have found – repeatedly – is that listening is one of the most profound healing remedies out there. What I have also found is that the material provided by Stephen Ministries in St. Louis, has the profound power to change people’s lives. I have witnessed this over, and over again.

Here is the briefest of synopses of what is required to become a Stephen Minister:

1. All persons interested in Stephen Ministry will need to attend a Stephen Ministry Introduction Workshop. These are half-day events located around the region and country. Due to Covid-19, there are no introductory workshops scheduled for 2020. I am awaiting to see what the schedule for 2021 looks like.

2. At the Introductory workshop, you will learn the difference between Stephen Leaders and Stephen Ministers. Usually at this workshop it will become clear to attendees which ministry they are called to – Stephen Minister or Stephen Leader. If you decide to become a Stephen Minister, your job for now will be to wait! Stephen Leaders will serve as the leadership team for Stephen Ministry in any given congregation, and their training is the first step in creating a team. To have a successful Stephen Leadership team, at least 4 individuals are required to serve in 4 specific leadership roles. The pastor may or may not be on this team, but at the least, provides a caring connection between the congregation and the Stephen Leader Team. Stephen Leaders are typically well-organized and self-starters.

3. Those who choose to become Stephen Leaders will attend a Stephen Leader Training Event. These training events are held around the country throughout the year. In January, the event is typically held in Orlando which is always a good escape – though you will never see the outside of the hotel! The Training Event provides 55 hours of training in one week, along with all the materials you will need to provide Stephen Ministry to the congregation. This is a very intense training week.

4. After the Stephen Leader Training Event, the Leadership Team will put together training modules, to train all those congregation members interested in Stephen Ministry. All of the modules and necessary materials are provided at the Leadership Training Event. Each potential Stephen Minister must go through 55 hours of training as well. This training is led by the Stephen Leader Team. It is important to note that if you are trained as a Stephen Leader, you will automatically become a Stephen Minister through your teaching of the material to potential Stephen Ministers. Warning: This material will change your life and the quality of your relationships!

5. After congregation members are trained and commissioned to become Stephen Ministers, the ministry of caring for the community begins. The Pastor or ‘Referrals Coordinator,’ then works to match people in need (known as a Care Receiver) with a Stephen Minister. Once that connection is made and a caring relationship begins, the Stephen Ministry Team (including Leaders and Ministers) supervises the relationship.

**Note that this is a CONFIDENTIAL ministry. There are never any names used among Stephen Ministers or the Leadership Team. Typically the only person who knows the identity of Care Receivers are the Pastor and the Stephen Minister assigned.

This seems like a lot of information, and at the same time it is not enough! Overall, this process can easily take 2 years to get started. It is a vigorous commitment for those who are interested, and the payoffs are just as enlivening. As you ponder this possibility for your life and the life of the congregation, I am always happy to answer any questions you may have about this life-changing ministry. I am additionally keeping a running list of individuals who are interested.  

Meanwhile, feel free to check out the Stephen Ministry website for information about resources and workshops.



First Presbyterian Church


20 King's Highway East, Haddonfield, NJ 08033
(856) 429-1960