By Thom S. Rainer
Pastoral care visits are a lost art for many pastors and church leaders. While not limited to pastors making them, these visits are often expected—or even required—for church staff. So today, we cover how to make these visits and proper hospital visitation etiquette. I also tell the story of first funeral I ever conducted, which might have been my most embarrassing moment ever in ministry.
Some highlights from today’s episode include:
- Hospital visits or visiting others in the midst of tragedy shouldn’t be limited to just church staff.
- The larger the church is or becomes, the more impossible it becomes for one person to take care of all pastoral visits.
- In many churches, the pastor is still expected to make all pastoral care visits.
- It is more common today to have an appointment before making any in-home visits for the church.
- Don’t wear out your welcome when making pastoral care visits. Brevity is generally best.
- Pastors can often receive unfair criticism if someone other that the pastor makes pastoral care visits.
The 10 tips for successful pastoral care visits are:
- There are many types of pastoral visits: hospital; homebound; nursing home; tragedy; prospective member; funeral home; member visits; and others.
- After a church passes 100 in attendance, it becomes physically impossible for one person to take care of all pastoral visits.
- Learn where appointments are preferred.
- Brevity is generally better.
- Balance unreasonable expectations with a pastoral heart.
- Learn the community context.
- Know the proper etiquette for a hospital visit: knock; ask permission; don’t sit on the bed; respect doctors and nurses; brevity is better; ask how to pray.
- Learn as much as you can about pastoral visit expectations before you go to a church.
- Equip others: staff, elders, deacons, other laity.
- Handle awkward moments with grace.
This article was originally posted on ThomRainer.com.
Thom S. Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources.