Stephen Ministry is encouragement and support found effective in more than thirty years of experience and refinement by the Stephen Ministries organization. Listening and prayer are two major tools of this ministry. A care-receiver and a Stephen Minister of same gender meet regularly, one-on-one. Stephen Ministers do not tell their care-receivers what to do or what to think, but walk alongside care-receivers exploring and discovering emotional and spiritual wellbeing. This ministry is not counseling, psychotherapy, or physical therapy. It is not driven by pop cliches or sectarian doctrine.
Stephen Ministers have a minimum of fifty hours of training in a wide variety of topics and skills that enhance their ability to care helpfully. Continuing education and peer-group support help the Stephen Minister expand and apply that training. Names of care-receivers are never directly or indirectly revealed. Stephen Ministers do not talk to anyone else about the care-receiver. The focus in bi-monthly peer-supervision sessions is on the questions and reactions of the Stephen Minister, with the aim of helping better relate to the care-receiver. Along with confidentiality, the defining characteristic of a Stephen Minister is a Christ-centered approach, not only following the example of Christ's love and care for those he touched one-on-one, but relying on the power of Divine guidance.
Some Stephen Ministers attend a week-long leadership training conference to learn more about how to get the Stephen Ministry program started and keep it going, from training Stephen Ministers to facilitating peer-supervision sessions.