ST. JOHN LUTHERAN CHURCH
(The Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod)
Alma, Kansas
A family united by faith in Christ gathering around God's Word and Sacraments.
To reach out in Christ-like concern and Christ-borne love to each other and to those without Christ!
In This Month's
St. John Witness
AUGUST WITNESS
Status Quo / Stephen Ministry
Stephen Ministry

What is Stephen Ministry?  Congregations equip lay caregivers to provide high-quality, confidential, Christ-centered care to people who are hurting or are experiencing grief, divorce, cancer, job loss, loneliness, disability, relocation, and other life difficulties. Stephen Ministers serve in a one to one relationship of trust, care, and Christ-like concern. If you think you  might benefit from having a Stephen Minister, please call Pastor Grimm, or talk with one of these servants of God. - Brad Becker, Don Frank, Charlie Gann, Judy Peddicord, Laura Stuewe, Junior Stuewe, Carol White.

If you would be interested in becoming a Stephen Minister, please contact Pastor Grimm.

Below is more information about the Stephen Series & Stephen MInistry.

  • Why is it called the Stephen Series?

Stephen was one of the first laypeople commissioned by the Apostles to provide caring ministry (Acts 6). Series describes the steps a congregation follows to implement the caring ministry system, which is commonly called Stephen Ministry.

  • How many congregations are using Stephen Ministry?

More than 11,000 congregations are enrolled, with hundreds more enrolling each year. They represent more than 150 denominations and come from all 50 United States, 10 Canadian provinces, and 24 other countries. Many congregations have had Stephen Ministry going strong for 20 or 30 years—or longer.

  • What size congregations are involved?

Stephen Ministry congregations range from fewer than 100 members to more than 10,000. Churches of any size have opportunities to care for hurting people in the congregation and community.

  • What are Stephen Ministers?

Stephen Ministers are laypeople who commit to two years of learning, growing, and caring. They receive Christian caregiving training in their congregation and then provide one-to-one Christ-centered care to hurting people. Each Stephen Minister typically has one care receiver at a time and meets with that person once a week.

  • What types of caregiving situations are Stephen Ministers used in?

Stephen Ministers provide high-quality, one-to-one Christian care to individuals facing a variety of crises or life challenges—people who are experiencing grief, divorce, cancer, financial difficulties, hospitalization, chronic illness, job loss, disabilities, loneliness, a spiritual crisis, or other life struggles.
In addition to caring for members within the congregation, Stephen Ministers can provide care to nonmembers, reaching out to unchurched people in crisis.

  • What are Stephen Leaders?

Stephen Leaders are pastors and lay leaders who direct Stephen Ministry in their congregation. They attend a one-week Leader’s Training Course (LTC) where they learn how to effectively lead their congregation’s Stephen Ministry.

  • What is the meaning of the logo?

The Stephen Series logo symbolizes that we are all broken people and that we are only made whole through the cross of Jesus.

Since 1975 nearly a half million Christian men and women from all walks of life have trained and served as Stephen Ministers in their congregations. Most decide to become Stephen Ministers as a way to help hurting people in their congregation and community—but very quickly discover that God gives them amazing blessings in return.


  • What do people say about Stephen Ministry?

“My faith has grown, my prayer life has doubled, and I know how to really make a difference in people’s lives. I’d encourage anyone who has the chance to become a Stephen Minister.”
  George Lund, Architect
  Prairie Village, Kansas

“Being a Stephen Minister has taught me to rely on God instead of always trying to fix things myself. I’ve learned what to say, how to listen, and what to do during a crisis. It’s a great feeling to provide people with the spiritual care and support they need.”
  John Eichelberger, Physician
  Greenwood, South Carolina

“The assertiveness skills I learned through Stephen Ministry gave me the courage and confidence I needed to be a more effective supervisor in my secular job—and to be more assertive in my personal relationships. Thank you for helping me develop these vital skills.”
  Elizabeth McMillion, Rehabilitation Counselor
  Madison, Wisconsin


STATUS QUO: Pastoral ministry has changed more in the past four months than at any time in my 35 years of ministry. When I was ordained in 1985, visitations were an important part of my time spent declaring the Word of God. Preaching from a pulpit was, and still is, the most important task each week. Accompanying the sermon are hours spent wrestling with the Scripture text to prepare to speak to God’s people without distorting God’s voice. Praying for members of the church and community is an obvious, yet more private, duty. Teaching various classes and participating in church meeting groups are routine tasks. Upon coming to Alma, assistance to the Lutheran School was added to my labors. Always, the ministry is about making connections with people and Jesus Christ. It is the preacher’s task to equip saints for service in the kingdom of God. (Ephesians 4:12)
    Home visits, shut-in visits, hospital visits and office visits are often unscheduled, and I think they are an important part of public ministry. There have been many days when God’s agenda takes precedence over my itinerary. The clerical tasks still need to be done, though people are the priority of God. I see great changes in that area of ministry in recent months. Hospitals and nursing homes do not allow pastoral visits. Many homebound members are afraid. There are less people who stop in to chat about their faith or to pray. But faith is still about our connection with God, and His connection with us!
    Virtual visitations are not the same as pastoral presence. And yet, the ministry of Jesus Christ is needed. The technology we use is helpful in providing support to God’s people, even those who are far away. But our God is a God who is near. I seek to be His ambassador to this community. As your pastor, I am willing to come visit, with the appropriate precautions (mask and gloves) and with Lord’s Supper, especially for those who are not yet able to join us in worship.
    As I have read histories about the church dealing with pandemic before, I see there is a need to be willing to be the courier of God’s Word. There is also the need to NOT be the courier of the pandemic. I pray for wisdom to know the difference. St. John leadership has chosen to practice some caution in our worship gatherings, so we may provide some confidence to those who attend, and provide a reasonable means of protection for all who come. We can never promise more than God Himself promises, and so we continue to look to everlasting life, in the face of death in this world.
    This may mean we are inconvenienced as we worship. Our worship time may seem too early or too late. Wearing a mask entering church and social distancing may seem unnatural. Communion distribution takes longer than before. I foresee that we will continue these practices for some time. But they do not inhibit us from fulfilling our calling as Christ’s people. They only serve as excuses when we do not want to be Christ’s flock.
    It may be that we need to promote home Bible studies, where members can choose the groups they are part of, in order to minimize contact with others, in order to slow any spread if this becomes an issue in Wabaunsee County again.
    A fear that I have, as pastor, is that we have become so comfortable in our Christianity that we are not willing to sacrifice ourselves in order to honor our Lord. Christianity is not only attending worship. But you cannot rightly claim to be Christian without taking time to worship, for God clearly and repeatedly commands us to come together as His people. Lutheranism is not simply a set of teachings, it is a proclamation which says that God speaks in the Bible, and we have basic assurance from Him for forgiveness of sins, and for our knowledge of God. St. John is not merely the name on our church, it is our desire to live Christian lives with a faith that gives all honor to Christ, and none to ourselves.
    It is not the “staus quo” that excites me. We are God’s people, and He excites me. He provides life. He redeems sinners. He loves, yes, He even loves me. We stand before God to carry out His mission to make disciples of all nations. If we cannot cross the seas, see the cross and share the cross where you are! God is calling you to honor Him at home, at work, at play, and at church!
    I want for us to know these gifts of God. His grace provides the answers of life and death, of heaven and hell, of prayer and praise, and of truth and lies. Christian life is dedicated to His honor. In your confirmation vows, yours is too. As a pastor, I am privileged to see faith in action; God is at work. I remain committed to serve Him, and ask you to join me in serving our community with the Gospel.
  When I was ordained, these questions were asked of me 35 years ago, and the answers I gave then, and repeated in 1997 here at St. John are still true. Some of you were here and remember them. Some only have learned it as a matter of record. A few others may not  know these questions and answers that pastors promise before God and the congregation whom they serve:
P Do you acknowledge that the Lord has called you through His Church into the ministry of Word and Sacrament?
RI do.
PDo you believe and confess the canonical books of the Old and New Testaments to be the inspired Word of God and the only infallible rule of faith and practice?
RYes, I believe and confess the canonical Scriptures to be the inspired Word of God and the only infallible rule of faith and practice.
PDo you believe and confess the three Ecumenical Creeds, namely the Apostles’, the Nicene, and the Athanasian Creeds, as faithful testimonies to the truth of the Holy Scriptures, and do you reject all the errors which they condemn?
RYes, I believe and confess the three Ecumenical Creeds because they are in accord with the Word of God. I also reject all the errors they condemn.
PDo you confess the Unaltered Augsburg Confession to be a true exposition of Holy Scripture and a correct exhibition of the doctrine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church? And do you confess that the Apology of the Augsburg Confession, the Small and Large Catechisms of Martin Luther, the Smalcald Articles, the Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope, and the Formula of Concord—as these are contained in the Book of Concord—are also in agreement with this one scriptural faith?
RYes, I make these Confessions my own because they are in accord with the Word of God.
PDo you promise that you will perform the duties of your office in accordance with these Confessions, and that all your preaching and teaching and your administration of the Sacraments will be in conformity with Holy Scripture and with these Confessions?
RYes, I promise, with the help of God.
PWill you faithfully instruct both young and old in the chief articles of Christian doctrine, will you forgive the sins of those who repent, and will you promise never to divulge the sins confessed to you? Will you minister faithfully to the sick and dying, and will you demonstrate to the Church a constant and ready ministry centered in the Gospel? Will you admonish and encourage the people to a lively confidence in Christ and in holy living?
RYes, I will, with the help of God.
PFinally, will you honor and adorn the Office of the Holy Ministry with a holy life? Will you be diligent in the study of Holy Scripture and the Confessions? And will you be constant in prayer for those under your pastoral care?
RI will, the Lord helping me through the power and grace of His Holy Spirit.
PAre you willing and ready to assume this public trust and responsibility?
RI am.
And you may remember this address by President Howard Patten, on January 12, 1997
PDear brothers and sisters in Christ, Rev. Robert W. Grimm has been called to be a pastor of St. John Lutheran Church. I ask you now, in the presence of God: Will you receive him, show him that love, honor, and obedience in the Lord that you owe to the shepherd and teacher placed over you by your Lord Jesus Christ, and will you support him by your gifts and fervent prayer? If so, then answer: We will, with the help of God.
CWe will, with the help of God.
The LSB Altar Book has also included these words:
PWill you honor and uphold your pastor as he serves Christ in all his God-pleasing responsibilities? Will you aid him as he cares for his family? Will you be diligent to “put the best construction on everything,” recognizing that “love covers a multitude of sins”? If so, then answer: We will, with the help of God.
CWe will, with the help of God.

Pray for God’s work to be done in Alma, and for me.
                  At the anniversary of an ordination LSB (2)
Lord God, heavenly Father, You promised to send Your servants the Holy Spirit and to give them power from on high. We give thanks that through Your Word You also called Pastor Grimm as Your servant and entrusted him with the Office of the Holy Ministry. We praise Your mercy and faithfulness and ask that You continue to keep him in good health and firm faith. Grant that he may continue to be a blessing to Your people and that they may be a blessing to him. Open everywhere the hearts of the faithful that Your Word may be received and that laborers in Your harvest may not be lacking. Cause Your Church to grow up into Him who is the head, even Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.