This blog post originally was written and published on this blog (Tuesday, January 8, 2013). However, with recent events in my personal life it has even become more relevant. Now serving as the Chaplain for Summit Behavioral Healthcare, as well as President and Teacher for Grace Church of the Valley School of Ministry I now even feel more confident in making this statement.
Pastoral Care is an act of worship!
Pastoral Care is an act of worship. As pastors and ministers of the gospel we are called upon to provide pastoral care in many different ways. We are called to visit in the hospitals those that are sick, preparing for surgery, being institutionalize in mental hospital, or suffering long term illness in a nursing home. We are asked to provide counseling for couples seeking to get married, marriages that are on the verge of divorce, and for families struggling with a difficult teen. We may be asked to visit in the jail or prison to those that have been found guilty of a crime. We are even at time called upon at times of crisis, such as the death of a loved one, a massive disaster, and etc.
However, in all these situations we need to exam OUR (as pastors/pastoral care providers) motives. I believe that Pastoral Care requires us to incorporate five specific things in order to meet the needs of the members of our church, and those that come to us for help.
1) Provide an opportunity for an individual to know Christ
a. I believe as a pastor, pastoral counselor, or pastoral care provider this one thing has to become the most essential factor of our ministry. Bringing individuals into a personal relationship with Christ was the focal point of every conversation that the great Pastoral Theologian of Scripture (The Apostle Paul) shared. He shared tirelessly about knowing Christ in a very personal way.
2) Provide Prayerful Encouragement
a. As pastoral care providers we need to have an exemplary prayer life, one that when we pray the Lord Jesus and Holy Spirit stop in their tracks to listen. People that we pray with in the hospital, nursing home, funeral home, office, or the front of the church need to feel that presence of Christ and that we are talking to HIM as one who expects HIM to here. It is also important that our prayers be positive and encouraging, not demeaning to the point which someone turns away from Christ.
3) Provide scriptural wisdom
a. Know the Scripture or least if you’re like me and sometimes have a hard time remembering things, have a cheat sheet of scripture that you can go to. The fact that scripture is always true, and always the same makes it the perfect reference point for helping individuals address many of life’s situations.
4) Provide reassurance of the Love of Christ
a. My experience as a pastor, men’s ministry leader, children’s pastor, and counselor has shown me that one of my key roles in Pastoral Care is helping individuals understand who they are in Christ, and that regardless of what they have done Christ loves them. Please understand this doesn’t mean that he will not judge them for sins they have committed but He loves us despite. A pastor friend puts like this … “Christ loves the sinner so much he died for him, but he will never Condones the sin he commits.”
5) Provide an opportunity for a Heart Transformation.
a. As I sit in the office and write this blog post, I realize that as a pastoral care provider it is my responsibility to provide the resources, wisdom, and encouragement to the individual sitting in front of me to Change their heart and mind. To transform themselves from a sinner to a saint. From a lost individual to a saved member of Christ family, and to take their very being from the darkest and separation of God, to the pure light of know Christ as savior.
6) Now you’re asking after reading this why I would say “Pastoral Care is an Act of Worship” and my logic is simple. When I provide pastoral care, whether in the hospital, nursing home, funeral home, families home, my office, or at the front of the church, my number one objective is help that individual to develop and strengthen their personal relationship with Christ and help them worship Christ as Lord of their life. There for I’m always attempting to Worship HIM with the person I’m talking to.