Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Pastoral Visits – the Changing Landscape of Ministry (Part 5)

Dahlia of the day: Fairway Pilot..

Take your spouse:

I have a great wife. She works full time for World Vision in the area of grant compliance. She has a LONG day—when you figure in the commute both ways. Every now and then she goes to the hospital with me. During last winter’s power outage she went with me to check on some of our “older” folks. People love it when she goes on visits with me.

I know a retired pastor who practiced home visitation in just this way. He would take his wife with him when he would do home visits. He wife is a dear! People would love it when she came with him for a visit.

Taking a spouse on a home visit is one strategy for pastoral home visits.

Dinner at our house:

(Note: This strategy works best if the pastor is married.) Where is it written that a pastoral home visit has to occur in the home of the parishioner? An earlier post talked about how threatening it can be to have the pastor stop by a parishioner’s house. Why not have people over to the pastor’s house? The dinner doesn’t have to be fancy. A few years ago Brenda and I tried having Taco Tuesday at our house. We would invite people over for a simple taco dinner every few Tuesdays. We let people “build their own” tacos. It was a simple dinner. We let people know that the evening would not be long and drawn out since it was a school night. I would do the cooking (I normally do) since Brenda would get home just a little before the others would arrive. Taco Tuesdays were great—maybe we should do them again.

Training others in visitation:

Every church has sacred cows. Mark Twain once said, “Sacred cows make the best hamburger.” I would say that sacred cows make good hamburger if you don’t get serious injured while dispatching them. The “pastoral home visit” is a sacred cow in some churches. There are many people in the congregation who would be excellent at doing home visits. Many of these same people would be more than willing to carry out home visits. The challenge is in educating the congregation on the topic of home visits. We have to move the church away from thinking that the pastor’s home visit is the only one that really counts. A visit from a deacon counts! A visit from a member of your small group counts! A visit from an elder counts! A visit from a person from a Church School class counts! A visit from another person from the congregation counts!


Evergreen’s strategy:

The leadership of Evergreen knows that there are not enough hours in a week for me to do home visits. People in our new member’s class (held at my home) are politely informed that they should not expect to see me in their home unless they have some sort of life issue: sick, a death in the family, a family crisis, a financial crisis, etc. On those occasions I will be there as fast as I can get there. I visit people in the hospital. Hospital visits take a lot of time. Just the drive to the hospital eats up a lot of time. There are six hospitals in the general area and it can take almost an hour to reach three of them (plus one on a military base and that one takes even longer to get to). There are weeks when I have two or three people in the hospital. There just isn’t much time available for home visits. Most people are very accepting of this reality of life at Evergreen.

Here is what we do at Evergreen.

  • Deacons—our front line of care: We have a great Deacon board. Every person who regularly attends Evergreen has a deacon assigned to them. The deacon prays for every person under their care. The deacon sends cards and letters to every person under their care. The deacon tries to keep regular contact with every person under their care. The deacon (without violating confidentiality) notifies the pastor if a person has some special need.
  • Small groups—caring for each other: Evergreen does not have lots and lots of small groups; however, we expect our small groups to care for those who are a part of their group. The small group members practice pastoral care.
  • The pastor—available for those with the greatest need: The pastor is available for those with the deepest needs.


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