Stephen Ministry

Christ caring for people through the people of Milford UMC

During the time of the early church, the apostles decided to choose among their faithful disciples those who would be sent into the community to minister to the needs of the people.

"And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit..."

A Stephen Minister gives One-on-One Lay Confidential Christian Care:
  • One-on-One: Stephen Ministers meet privately with one care receiver of the same gender.
  • Lay: Stephen Ministers are trained and supervised lay volunteers, not professional counselors or therapists, pastors or physicians. Stephen Ministers are not authorized to give legal, medical, financial or any other advice, but Bible-based encouragement.
  • Confidential: Stephen Ministers keep personal information confidential. You can feel free to share with your Stephen Minister without worrying that anyone else will know about it. There are rare occasions when a Stephen Minister must share confidential information in order to save a life. Those occasions are suicide, homicide or abuse.
  • Christian: Stephen Ministers are Christians who care in the name of Christ. They are willing to talk about spiritual issues, but won't force them.
  • Care: Stephen Ministers care by listening, supporting, encouraging, praying, being dependable and trustworthy and maintaining confidentiality in their care-giving.
Through a confidential one-on-one caring relationship with a MUMC Stephen Minister, someone experiencing challenging times can receive the love, care and support that they need. People who need care:
  • Receive quality Christ-centered confidential care during their times of hurt and need.
  • Find hope, healing, and a new sense of self-worth through the support of a Stephen Minister.
  • Know they are remembered and supported by our congregation in times of personal difficulty.
  • Receive ongoing care for continuing needs long after the onset of a crisis, when many others may have forgotten about them.
A Stephen Minister is different from a close friend and it's important to understand the distinction. In a time of grief or crisis, the care receiver benefits from the care of both a Stephen Minister and close friends. Stephen Ministers have a lot in common with close friends. You can depend on them; you can trust them; you know they'll keep confidential whatever you tell them. They'll be there for you and help you through a rough time. But a Stephen Ministers role is different from the role of a close friend.
Close friendships are mutual. Friends are there for each other; they share the good times and the bad times and support each other. A Stephen Ministry relationship is one-sided. Stephen Ministers listen, reflect thoughts and feelings, and care. They don't share their own problems with the care receiver as a friend might. They focus only on the care receiver's issues, and they bring in their own experience only when they sense that they might be able to shed some light on the care receiver's situation. But such sharing is rare and always geared toward the care receiver's needs, not the Stephen Minister's.
The relationship has been established for a reason--so that the Stephen Minister can walk with the care receiver through a difficult time. The Stephen Minister knows this, and the care receiver knows this. So when the Stephen Minister arrives at the care receiver's home (perhaps after just a little bit of small talk), the two can dive right into deep emotional or spiritual issues. The Stephen Minister knows he or she "has permission" to ask questions about difficult experiences. Likewise, the care receiver knows he or she "has permission" to share painful feelings. The relationship has been established with a clear purpose in mind.
Friends often aren't very objective. If someone's hurting, a good friend usually hurts with that person. Friends often take the person's part even if they might not feel that way if the situation were a little different. Their friendship may even cloud their judgment at times. A Stephen Minister certainly empathizes, but he or she works to stay more objective than a friend, and avoid "jumping into the mud hole" with the care receiver. By maintaining objectivity, the Stephen Minister can provide balance and perspective that a friend might not. This isn't to say that Stephen Ministers aren't sympathetic, even empathetic. They hurt with their care receivers too! They may hug them, cry with them, and even at times be angry along with them. But if they're going to help the care receivers, they need to maintain boundaries that will help them move beyond those feelings and help the care receiver find a way beyond them, too.
Stephen Ministers go through 50 hours of training, regular continuing education, and twice-monthly small group peer supervision. They are trained caregivers--very highly trained caregivers. They have skills in active listening, dealing with feelings, Christian care-giving, setting boundaries, relating assertively, process-oriented caring, crisis intervention, and ministering in a wide range of situations. Their care isn't casual, as a friend's might be. They maintain a boundary that friends don't--which is why Stephen Ministers are able to help in ways that friends might not be able to. They focus on the process of caring without trying to "fix things" or pushing for results, as well-meaning friends so often do. They listen in ways that let the care receiver find his or her own solutions. They empathize without getting tangled up in the person's feelings. Stephen Ministers regularly evaluate the caring relationships--in supervision and on their own; always with the goal of providing the best care they possibly can provide for the care receiver. Their caring is a ministry. The Stephen Minister is there as long as the care receiver needs care.
Most importantly, Stephen Ministers rely on God to direct their actions and help them as they care for their care receivers. Stephen Ministers pray for their care receivers and may pray with them when they welcome prayer. Stephen Ministry care is based on grace; Stephen Ministers strive to be the face of Christ to their care receivers. Friendships may have a spiritual perspective, but Stephen Ministry relationships always do, however the Stephen Minister is always sensitive to the care receiver's needs in this aspect, never forcing prayers or Bible verses into the relationship. But Stephen Ministers often focus on spiritual as well as emotional and psychological hurts as they minister to their care receivers.
Friendships can be forever. Stephen Ministry relationships aren't. The time will come when the care receiver no longer needs a Stephen Minister, and the relationship will close. Of course, once the Stephen Ministry relationship is over, the relationship between the Stephen Minister and care receiver may blossom into a friendship. But when a person is going through a rough time, he or she will benefit from the focused care of a Stephen Minister--in addition to the care of his or her loyal friends.
You play an important role in our Stephen Ministry. Here's what you can do:
  • Pray for God to bring hope and healing to hurting people through our Stephen ministry.
  • Accept care from a Stephen Minister during your time of need. God doesn't expect you to bear your burdens alone.
  • Tell a friend, neighbor co-worker or relative who is hurting about our Stephen Ministry.
  • If you are a good listener and a compassionate person, prayerfully consider becoming a Stephen Minister.
From time to time, training classes at MUMC are formed. An interview is necessary as the first step to become a Stephen Minister. Please contact any of our Stephen Leaders for more information.
If you or someone you know would like to explore having a Stephen Minister, let the pastor know, or contact one of Milford United Methodist Church's Stephen Ministry Leaders for a confidential discussion.
MUMC Stephen Ministry Leaders

   Callie McMahon (Referral Coordinator)
   Pastor Collins
   Jerry Theriault

Call the church office at 603-673-2669 or Email: