(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
Theology for Today / 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

Theology for Today

Notes on the Liturgy
(Brothers of John the Steadfast offers articles to teach good practice and theology. This article is from a series that teaches about the liturgy. These notes were originally written in 2001 by Pastor David Oberdieck and have been edited.)

#5 – Introit, Psalm or Hymn
Having received Absolution the congregation moves from the time of preparation to that part of the worship known as “the service of the Word.” We begin the service of the Word with an Introit, Psalm, or Hymn.
Let’s get into the history of this practice by focusing on that word “introit.” It means “entrance” or “beginning”. As Christians moved from a persecuted minority to the official majority they also moved from having worship in someone’s home to larger basilicas. This in turn afforded the opportunity to adorn the service with liturgical details that would not have been possible in a cramped home church.
“In the early fifth century, Pope Celestine I (died 432) decreed that an entire psalm should be sung antiphonally (back and forth) by a double choir as the clergy came from the sacristy (at the back of the church) to the altar. This was intended to add solemnity to the entrance of the clergy and to establish the thought or mood appropriate for the particular service.” (L. Reed in The Lutheran Liturgy) Essentially the Introit was travel music.

Today the Introit is a little different. As stated above, it comes after the Absolution to begin the service of the Word rather than beginning the entire worship service as it did in Celestine’s time. The introit is part of the propers of the day. That means it changes from Sunday to Sunday. The propers are the elements in worship which change weekly. They include the Introit or Psalm, the Scripture readings, the Gradual, the Verse and hymns for each Sunday. In “Lutheran Worship,” the propers for the day start on page 10. Turn to it. Take note of the introit and the other propers before you read on. (the introits and collects are not in the LSB hymnal, though the Scriptures are on pp. xiv-xxiii, so we’ll use LW for this example.)
The introit is not a whole psalm but a part of a psalm that contains the insertion of a repeated verse called an “antiphon”. The antiphon will help set the theme for the day. See how in the antiphon begins and ends the Introit. See how the antiphon helps set the theme for the day:
The first Sunday in Advent, the Introit (page 10) begins with the antiphon that says, “See your King comes to you…” For Epiphany the Introit (page 20) begins with the antiphon that says, “All kings will bow down to him…” On Maundy Thursday (page 43), when Christ gave Communion, the antiphon says, “I will lift up the cup of salvation…” For Easter the Introit (page 47) begins with an antiphon that says, “Alleluia, Christ has risen…”
An Introit, Psalm or Hymn is appropriate after the absolution. Having been forgiven, it is natural to sing to the Lord as we come into His presence with Thanksgiving. The pastor may show this in a visual way by literally “entering” into the chancel during this part of the Liturgy. Prior to this point of the service, he would have been outside of the communion rails as a part of the congregation. Now, he may enter into the chancel which is the Christian version of the Holy of Holies. A Psalm or Introit is often used because the book of Psalms has been the prayer and hymn book of the church since Old Testament times, and it is a way in which the saints of all ages are joined together in worshipping the one true God. The Gloria Patri, or “Glory be to the Father”, ends the Introit or Psalm to proclaim beyond a shadow of a doubt to anyone present that we are addressing the Triune God in His own words that may be chanted to show how special they are.

#6 — Kyrie & Gloria
Kyrie means “Lord.” In the Kyrie, we call out “Lord have mercy.” It is not specifically a prayer of forgiveness. We already asked for forgiveness at the beginning of the service with Confession. We use the Kyrie not unlike the way it is used in the Bible–a general call for God’s help (Psalm 41:4; Ps. 123:3; Matt 17:15, Matt. 15:21). The Kyrie should be sung in confidence knowing we have a strong and loving God who does indeed come to the aid of His people! This pleases God, for He is the one who invites us to call on Him in our need (Ps 50:15).
Having prayed for God’s mercy it is very fitting to go onto the Gloria. “Coming immediately after the Kyrie, without a single word between, the Gloria is a response to the Kyrie itself…” (The Lutheran Liturgy, L. Reed). The Gloria recalls the angels hymn of praise at the birth of Christ (Luke 2:14). It is God’s ultimate answer to our call “Lord have mercy.” In Christ, we have not only forgiveness but also fullness of life. Even if the whole world would come to help us in our troubles, if we didn’t have Christ we would be truly helpless. On the other hand, even if the whole world is against us and life is most miserable, and yet in Christ we know nothing can hinder His deliverance!

#7 – Salutation
Before the Collect of the Day and also at the Preface, Pastor and people speak the words, “The Lord be with you. And also with you.” Similar expressions are found in the Bible at several places (Ruth 2:4, Judges 6:12; Lk 1:28, II Thess 3:16). “The concept is still common in the Mideast’s use of shalom/Salaam (‘peace’ — with ‘of the Lord, be with you’ understood).” ( “Meaningful Worship” CPH) Pastor and people bless each other and so it is a sign of the bond of love in Jesus that should reside among God’s people (Jn 15:17). We do not seek to harm each other, but we seek to bless each other.
It is worth noting that the salutation comes before sacramental elements in the service–before the Bible readings and before Communion. This is intentional. Pastor and people bless each other and the blessings are received through the faith filled hearing of the Word and reception of the Lord’s Supper.
Among some pastors there might be hand gestures that accompany the salutation. The pastor may extend his hands when he speaks, and receiving the blessing he may fold them together and slightly bow his head. In reference to this practice it has been said, “The extending of hands (by pastor) expresses the ardent longing and the earnest desire of the priest that the blessing he invokes may be bestowed; the joining of the hands signifies that the priest humbly mistrusts his own strength and confidently abandons himself to the Lord.” (Lutheran Liturgy by L. Reed)

#8 — Collect
The Collect is a prayer that often focuses on the content of the Gospel or Epistle reading. It is part of the propers of the day that start on pg. 10 of “Lutheran Worship”. (For the Lutheran Service Book, these are found in the Altar Book.) Since it is a “proper” it means it changes from Sunday to Sunday just like the Introit. The prayer is “proper” for a particular Sunday. Thus, it aids in the unity of thought in the service. MOST IMPORTANTLY, like all other liturgical elements, the Collect serves the Gospel and glorifies the Lord by focusing our faith outwardly on the presence and promises of God! This is a great strength of liturgical worship over against emotion based, charismatic style praise services that often focuses one inward. If emotion become too much a focus, it obscures what God has said and done for us.
The Collect is somewhat poetic and reverent in nature. It is not written/spoken in a free, extemporaneous style. Yet, we should never fall into the mistaken notion that written prayers are not spiritual. On the contrary, a written prayer is well thought out reflection of the God of order. It has been said of the Collect, “Their humility of spirit is balanced by certainty of faith, and their brevity of form by breadth of thought.” (L. Reed, The Lutheran Liturgy) Both written and extemporaneous prayers have a place among God’s people as long as the prayer is truly spiritual in the thought it conveys and in the heart of faith that prays it.
The Collect will often follow this five part pattern. The example comes from page 52 of Lutheran Worship:
1.God is addressed. Typically it is the Father, but prayers addressed to the Son and Holy Spirit are also used when it is appropriate (e.g. “Almighty God, merciful Father”)
2.The basis of the prayer is given (e.g. “since you have awakened from death the Shepherd of your sheep”)
3.The request is given (e.g. “grant us your Spirit that we may know the voice of our Shepherd”)
4.The purpose or benefit of the prayer (e.g. “that sin and death may never pluck us out of your hand”)
5.The ending which is a doxology and serves to clarify once again that we are praying to the one and only Triune God (e.g. “through Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.”)