The Importance of Confidentiality in Stephen Ministry
Confidentiality is a cornerstone of Stephen Ministry because it is absolutely essential for building safe, healing, caring relationships.
Stephen Ministry is confidential. Stephen Ministers don't reveal what their care receivers have told them. Not to the pastors, not to the Stephen Leaders, not to their spouses or friends, and not to other Stephen Ministers.
Why? Because trust is vital for a caring relationship to be effective. Care receivers are experiencing difficulties that leave them feeling very vulnerable. Discussing their innermost feelings is an important step in the healing process. But in order to open up and discuss that which is troubling them most, care receivers need complete trust in their Stephen Minister - and the assurance that what they say will not be circulated to others and become news for gossip.
This assurance builds trust and creates a safe place where care receivers can risk revealing their most painful issues - problems they might not even discuss with close friends or family. Confidentiality helps create a relationship that promotes healing and hope.
Another aspect of confidentiality is that nobody - except the Stephen Minister, the care receiver, and the pastor or Stephen Leader who matched the two together - even knows that a care receiver has a Stephen Minister. Care receivers, of course, are free to tell others about the relationship and who their Stephen Minister is, but the Stephen Minister never tells. This means a care receiver can choose to have complete anonymity so that if he or she doesn't want people even to know that he or she has a Stephen Minister, nobody will ever know.
One final point involving confidentiality involves the Stephen Ministry model of supervision, where confidentiality is also a key element. (Supervision, done twice monthly, is vital to Stephen Ministry so that Stephen Ministers can provide the best quality care possible to their care receivers.) In supervision the focus of discussion is on the relationship between the Stephen Minister and the care receiver, rather than the details of what is going on in a care receiver's life. By not revealing a care receiver's name or any significant details, confidentiality is maintained, and supervision becomes a place where Stephen Ministers can support and encourage one another in ministry while they provide the best quality care to their care receivers. It's a model that has enabled life-changing ministry to happen in thousands of Stephen Ministry congregations since 1975.
Why this talk about confidentiality? To build your trust in Stephen Ministry. It is a high-quality care-giving ministry that you can count on should you ever have the need. Confidentiality is a cornerstone of good ministry - and of our Stephen Ministry.