Stephen Leaders (left to right): Gwen Carpenter, Rev. Philip Newman, Ally Murray, Kim Logan.

About Stephen Ministry

Stephen Ministry is the one-to-one lay caring ministry that takes place in congregations that use the Stephen Series system.
Stephen Ministry congregations equip and empower lay caregivers - called Stephen Ministers - to provide high-quality, confidential, Christ-centered care to people who are hurting.
The best way to understand how Stephen Ministry works is to learn about three groups of people involved in this ministry: Stephen Leaders, Stephen Ministers, and care receivers.
Stephen Leaders establish and direct Stephen Ministry in a congregation. They build awareness in congregations, recruit and train Stephen Ministers,and provide ongoing supervision and continuing education to Stephen Ministers. Leaders also meet with potential care receivers and match care receivers with Stephen Ministers.
Stephen Ministers are lay people trained to provide one-to-one, confidential care to people experiencing a difficult time in life. Stephen Ministers come from all walks of life. Their commonality? A passion for bringing Christ’s love and care to people during a time of need.
Care receivers are people—congregation members and others in the community—who receive care from a Stephen Minister. These are people struggling through a difficult time in life—experiencing grief, divorce, job loss, chronic or terminal illness, or some other life crisis.
Click here to go directly to the Stephen Ministry website.
Hear what Care Receivers say about Stephen Ministry...

Qualities Of A Stephen Minister

The church is not looking for perfect Stephen Ministers. They do not exist outside of Jesus himself! Effective Stephen Ministers will not all be alike and that’s good. Care receivers will be different, so It helps to have a variety of Stephen Ministers who can serve them.

Core Qualities of a Stephen Minister

  • The person is a Christian.
  • The person has the ability to keep confidences.
  • The person is able to relate to others non-judgmentally.
  • The person is committed to giving the time necessary for training and service.
  • The person is willing and able to participate faithfully in supervision.
When an applicant has the core characteristics and some (but not all) of the desirable characteristics in the four areas described below, he or she should make a good Stephen Minister trainee.

Desirable Qualities of a Stephen Minister

Stephen Ministers have some of these desirable qualities in each of the following four key areas:
  • Shows humility.
  • Is aware of personal boundaries and able to say no when necessary
  • Is tolerant, non-judgmental, accepting, forgiving
  • Shows a positive regard for people
  • Desires to grow and is eager to learn
  • Is reliable, dependable, trustworthy
  • Makes decisions and follows through with tasks and responsibilities
  • Shows emotional stability
  • Is willing to try new behaviours, experiment with different approaches, explore possibilities
  • Possesses genuine self-esteem and is content to serve quietly and without fanfare
  • Is teachable, trainable, accepting of supervision
  • Shows an ability to relate to and work with diverse types of people
  • Is comfortable meeting people and helping them feel comfortable
  • Is welcoming and hospitable
  • Is open to differences of opinion
  • Is clear, direct, and to the point in communicating with others
  • Expresses feelings in an honest and caring way
  • Has the capacity to be vulnerable, to laugh and cry with people
  • Cares for others in an assertive but not aggressive way
  • Deals appropriately with confidential information
  • Is accepting of self and others because God has graciously accepted him or her
  • Understands faith as a relationship with God and a way of life
  • Is not currently experiencing a major spiritual crisis
  • Has a growing relationship with God indicated by regular worship, Bible use and personal prayer
  • Has a heart and vision for servant ministry
  • Has an authentic desire to serve Christ and the church
  • Has the ability to articulate his or her faith in a natural and comfortable way
  • Shows a willingness to work hard and has an attitude that says, “I’m willing to do whatever it takes”
  • Views Stephen Ministry as a significant aspect of the congregation’s total mission and ministry
  • Is greatly excited about and keenly interested in Stephen ministry
  • Grasps the commitment level that is required for this ministry
  • Has the willingness (and capacity) to commit significant time and energy to learning and practicing the role of Stephen Minister
  • Has a deep desire to serve others through Stephen Ministry
  • Shows a willingness to take responsibility for his or her own actions.

Hear what some of our West Vancouver United Church Stephen Ministers have to say about their experience...

Serving as a Stephen Minister at WVUC

There is training, which will include:

  1. two (2) retreats [Friday evening & Saturday], and
  2. nine (9) evening classes (7-9pm), spread over non-holiday Mondays in September, October, November and early December.

As a Stephen Minister you will visit about once a week (for about one hour) with the person you are caring for. You will also attend up to two (2) meetings per month for supervision and continuing education.

All costs will be paid by the congregation, however you may discover associated resources that you wish to purchase at your expense.
No, you are not expected to spend any money whatsoever on the care receiver. You are also not expected to personally provide any other specific services for a care receiver, such as transportation or baby-sitting, for example. As a Stephen Minister, you may at times assist in arranging for such services.
No. You will care for one care receiver at a time. If the care receiver were to begin calling too often, you will learn to respond to too many phone calls or excessive demands in a loving, assertive manner. It probably won't arise, though.
The term “Pastor” is used in the documentation to refer to our Ordained Ministers because Stephen Ministry uses the term “Minister” frequently to refer to Stephen Ministers who are our lay care providers. Therefore, the use of the term “Pastor” is simply to differentiate between our Ordained ministers and our Lay Stephen Ministers.
Most definitely! Stephen Ministers complement the pastors’ ministry and provide even more care to those who need it.
You will never be knowingly assigned to people who might be in those situations. The Stephen Ministry training also helps you to know exactly when and how to help your care receiver get professional help when necessary. Your Supervision Group, the Stephen Leaders, and the pastors are also there to help you to make such decisions.
You will learn many skills that will be valuable in your personal life as well as in your Stephen Ministry. Also, the satisfaction of helping another person is a wonderful blessing.
No, many people decide to continue as Stephen Ministers after two years. You and your Stephen Leaders will make that decision when the time comes.
Members of this congregation who are experiencing times of special need and other people within our community who may turn to us for help. Thus, Stephen Ministry is also a way to reach out to others in the community as well as to our own church family.
Yes. Rev. Philip or a Stephen Leader will meet first with the care receiver. Only after the care receiver understands Stephen Ministry and has agreed to meet with a Stephen Minister will you be contacted.
No. The name and conversations with your care receiver are to be held strictly confidential between you, your care receiver and if needed your pastor or Stephen Leader when circumstances require support.
Probably so! But the training will eliminate much of this fear because you will not only learn what to say but also, and more importantly, how to listen.

It is an important part of the application process to talk with a Stephen Leader as part of discerning your fit with Stephen Ministry.

The next step is to fill out an application that can be given to you by a Stephen Leader.

After you submit your application you will meet with the Stephen Leader team. This gives you an opportunity to ask more questions and for Stephen Leaders to learn more about you as they, too, discern your fit with Stephen Ministry.

Gwen Carpenter, Rev. Philip Newman, Ally Murray and Kim Logan (the same order as they appear in image below, left to right):