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
SEPTEMBER WITNESS
Theology for the Day / 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, 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



     Renewing Our Commitment to Lutheran Education—Proverbs 22:6
"Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it."

Friends in Christ, our nation is in the middle of a cultural revolution that has been brewing for many years. Although there are many political and social issues that divide our nation, there is a much more important battle being fought. It is a battle for the hearts, minds, and souls of our children.
The plans for the current battle were laid as early as 1918 when The Worker's Socialist Federation published a paper that accurately noted that "He who has the school has the future." The plan laid out more than 100 years ago was to indoctrinate children, to eliminate any public mention of God, and to rewrite history. Sound familiar?
Today, thousands of public schools across the United States are teaching our children—starting in Kindergarten and sometimes as early as Preschool—that there is no hope, that there is no such thing as morality, that our founders were evil, and—worst of all—that there is no place for God in their lives.
Of course, as Christians, we realize that the current battle is a part of a much larger war that the devil has been waging since Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. Nevertheless, it is important for us to recognize that the battleground has shifted significantly over the last decade. While traditionally political and social debates in our nation took place within a framework of Judeo-Christian morality, such debates now take place within a secular—some might say post-Christian—culture.
Now, many of the divisions we face as a nation are the result of nearly opposite world views. As a result, it is much more difficult to find common ground than it was in the past. Although Jesus desires that we love all people, it is extremely difficult for Christians to find common ground with those who desire to create an earthly "utopia" in which there is no God and no respect for individual freedom.
So, how should we respond to these very real battles for the hearts, minds, and souls of our children?
Although there are a number of things I believe we can do—both individually and collectively—I would like to focus on just one of those things this morning. Starting today, I pray that our District—and each of us personally—will renew our commitment to Lutheran Schools. As Pastor Trevor Sutton wrote in his book, Being Lutheran, "Even though we have a heritage of clear confession, we have no promise for future faithfulness—no promise that heritage will continue."
In other words, as Lutherans, it is important for each of us to recognize that we not only have a wonderful heritage of educating our children about God's love and the hope that Christ provides to all who have faith in Him, we also have a continuing obligation—right here and right now—to teach our children what we believe and why we believe it. As God instructs us in Deuteronomy 4:9, "Be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them."
Perhaps our obligation to teach our children and grandchildren is expressed best in Psalm 78. Here, God tells His people "to teach their children so the next generation would know [His statutes], even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children." As a result, future generations "would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands."
Martin Luther called the fight over the hearts, minds, and souls of our children "a war with the very devil, who is out to secretly . . . destroy [us] without a battle—before anyone is even aware of what is going on." He feared that "the schools will prove [to be] the very gates of hell, unless they diligently labor in explaining the Holy Scriptures, and engraving them in the hearts of youth." In fact, it was Luther's advice that nobody place their child in a school "where the Scriptures do not reign paramount."   
Similarly, our Synod's first President, C.F.W. Walther, advocated that every congregation should establish a parish school. In doing so, he wrote:
"Humanly speaking, everything depends on [our parochial schools] for the future of our church in America. [A]ll church bodies in America have worked for their own dissolution from the time . . . they permitted the state to care for the education of our children. So, the most careful cultivation of our parochial schools is, and remains, after public ministry, the chief means for [the church's] preservation and continuation."
Walther also offered this rhetorical question to pastors who did not view parochial schools as an important part of their ministry—"How can someone who does not care about the foundation be seriously concerned about the building?
Although our influence over public schools is extremely limited, we are blessed as the leaders of the Kansas LCMS District to walk "hand-in-hand" with our member congregations as stewards of our parochial schools. As our website states, the Kansas LCMS District is "dedicated to providing a solid Lutheran Christian education for our children and youth, in part by operating schools within the largest Protestant parochial school system in America."
We should give thanks for all of our Lutheran preschools and K-8 schools that are currently serving the children of Kansas as well as for our new high school in Wichita that will open next year. We should also give thanks for all of our teachers, staff members, administrators, volunteers, parents, and others who support our existing Lutheran Schools. And, let us not forget to give thanks for the many faithful Christian men and women who serve "on the front lines" by teaching or otherwise serving in our public schools.
As we give thanks for these blessings, it is important for each of us to honestly admit that many of us, including pastors, commissioned ministers, and lay members are—at best—"lukewarm" when it comes to recognizing the importance of Lutheran Schools. If we have any doubt, let's look at the facts. Since 2015, the LCMS has lost 641 parochial schools and nearly 150,000 students.
Closer to home, 70 congregations in the Kansas District operated a K-8 Lutheran School at one point in time. Today, there are fourteen (14) K-8 Lutheran Schools scattered across our State. Although our 44 Early Childhood Centers are doing a wonderful job and are extremely important in helping lay the foundation for young children, I would respectfully suggest that they do not serve the same purpose as our elementary and secondary schools in the development of mature Christians.  
Friends in Christ, let us never forget that the devil continues to fight for the hearts, minds, and souls of our children. The importance of this fight was not lost on our ancestors and it should not be lost on us now. As Walther's writings so eloquently remind us, our Lutheran Schools remain—second only to the public ministry—as the chief defense against these attacks and for the continuation of the church. 
As we approach our 74th Kansas LCMS District Convention which is appropriately themed—"Proclaim, Teach, Share"—let us each prayerfully consider and reflect on these questions:
1.What can we, as a District and as individuals, do to actively encourage more families to send their children to Lutheran schools?
2.What can we, as a District and as individuals, do to enthusiastically provide additional aid and support to our existing Lutheran schools and to our students?
3.What can we, as a District and as individuals, do to vigorously promote and assist in the planting of new Lutheran schools across our state?
As our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ commands us, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." (Matthew 19:14.)
Amen. Dave Bruns, Presiding Chair, KS LCMS BOD