Day: January 27, 2009

Pastoral care in the small church

I’m in south Georgia tonight because my father is in the hospital.  He’s doing better after a bad bout of bronchitis, but unfortunately had to celebrate his 89th birthday on Monday from his hospital bed.  “The best thing about my birthday,” he said on Monday, “is that I’m having one!”

When we left Chatham today to make the 10-hour drive, we left 3 people from our congregation in the hospital with their families anxiously waiting by their bedsides.  I had seen each one on Monday before we left.  I prayed with each family, and each one expressed appreciation for my visit.

In times of stress, including hospital stays, families and members need the care of their church staff and members.  I got word today that one of our men was making the rounds in my absence, while his wife was calling their families to offer support.

All this is much better than the story I heard recently.  Seems a family member had taken her elderly parents to a special Friday communion service for shut-ins.  The service was very sweet, and afterward this family member expressed appreciation to the minister for having a special service for those who normally could not attend.  His response dashed the whole thing as he said, “Well, it’s better than having to visit each one of them!” 

The longer I pastor, the more I understand how important it is for members to receive care and support during a crisis.  If your care is done with a grudging attitude, its effect will be slight.  If done with love, its impact will bring comfort.  Mother Teresa said, “There are no great things, only small things done with great love.”  That applies to pastoral care, too.