Perhaps the one occupation above all others where the individual is expected to exhibit a genuineness, a true empathy, a sincere compassion, an interest in the welfare of others, is that of the Christian ministry. While pastors are considered working in an occupation thought of as a profession, they must of all people be non-professional in genuine concern for the individual if they are to have a ministry that really counts for Christ.
What we are saying is that while a man must, if he accomplishes a real work for Christ in the ministry, be a good administrator, as we saw in our course on Church Administration, he is certain to be a failure if he has not a shepherd's or a pastor's heart. In this we do not mean that one with simply a sympathetic Christian heart will be assured of success in the spiritual or pastoral functions, for there are many aspects to the spiritual side of the ministry. We are simply saying a sympathetic Christian heart is a necessity and the beginning point for a "would-be" pastor.
It is true that the Holy Spirit can and does wonderfully instruct a man of God in pastoral work concerning things ordinarily learned in school or in things that are not taught formally. However, there are many many practical applications in the work of a pastor that have been demonstrated to be workable, helpful, successful, and fruitful so that in these areas the novice does not have to spend a great deal of time experimenting. Much of this consists in the proper application of Scripture. Other instructional factors involved in Pastoral Theology are principles, guide lines, informative facts and acquaintance with materials useful in performance of the pastoral ministry.
So in Pastoral Thelology we are concerned with the core of the pastor's execution of the spiritual side of his ministry. This is the phase of a minister's work that should illicit the most interest from a student in preparation for the Lord's service. This is the area where the greatest challenge comes to produce spiritual results for Christ, and to see the power of God channeled through one's ministry, for while some of the considerations may seem mechanical yet all factors combine to form the heart of the pastor's spiritual ministry. Whether or not an individual is known as a real man of God will be his ability and performance in the area of Pastoral Theology.
Of course, our approach to Pastoral Theology is from a thorough-going Biblical position. We start from a revelational premise that God has spoken; that there is an authoritative Word of God; that there is a ministry not only to be performed in truth and sincerity, but one that is supernaturally authored, supernaturally empowered, supernaturally produced and will be supernaturally rewarded. It follows then that the man of God who pastors under the commissioning of the Holy Spirit, Who has called him to this work, faces his task both with the assurance of God's help and also with the recognition that he must meet the solemn assize of a God who judges without respect of persons. (I Peter 1:17)
So may God give a dedicated diligence, a holy zeal, and an unrelenting determination to show ourselves the workmen who need not to be ashamed as we contemplate meeting Christ at any moment to give the accounting of how we have built on the foundation--Christ. This we must do in the light of "Maranatha"--"The Lord is coming. " (I Corinthians 16:22 and I Peter 5:2-4)
A few people are born with a natural gift of gab and by constitution really thrive on getting out and meeting new people, going into strange homes and finding their greatest delight in animated conversation especially if they are on the talking end. But with many of us this is not so, though to varying degrees. However, we can learn to like meeting new people, especially when we have multiplied experiences of making new friends in the Lord, and when we see wonderfully demonstrated the difference in lives that the Grace of God makes from the time we first met a person who was spiritually dead and then later to witness the transformation that new life in Christ has brought.
Visitation and the ministry of the Word of God are the heart of the Pastor's work as Shepherd. While some types of visitation are more difficult than others how good it is to know that we pursue a calling ministry not seeking to profit commercially as does the salesman--canvasser, but seeking to enrich immeasureably those we contact whether or not they now have the proper estimation of spiritual values. God grant to us the compassionate heart as we call so that even when the occasional rebuff comes, our reaction will be such that the Holy Spirit will leave an indelible impression for good upon the mind of the one who has negatively reacted.
Thus we might well ask ourselves what is the appearance of our countenance as we go? Do we radiate Christ in cheerfulness? Rare is the person who can angrily react to a broad warm smile and cheery greeting. Add to that a genuine interest in the person approached and in almost all cases a hearing of some sort will be gained.
There is no greater need for the visitation ministry of a godly pastor than to call on those afflicted especially those of his flock. His own sheep will expect this. This does not mean in case of any little bruise or cold, though occasionally we find hypocondriacs who expect unusual attention that is not necessary to give. One has only to experience the pain and frustration that illness or accident can bring, to realize how comforting and encouraging can be the visit of the Man of God as he brings the promises of God's Word and gets ahold of God in prayer.
2. Intercession for the one afflicted.
In a pastorate of any length like 5-10 years, if the pastor has been faithful in getting acquainted with people, the time will come when that family will be touched with affliction; be it illness, accident or death, and the Pastor will find his golden moment to strike for Christ in a ministry of comfort. Woe be to that Pastor who neglects that opportunity! It will usually come suddenly and without warning so that the Pastor will do well to drop everything else and respond as if he were the town emergency squad racing to save a life. What we are saying is that the most difficult homes to reach usually always have their crisis time when the Pastor by prompt assistance can gain an inroad to that family that would have been impossible any other way and for his ministry in time of dire need that family will be everlastingly grateful.
While as a Pastor most hospitals will allow you to visit during any daytime hours, mornings as a rule are not a good time to visit. It is then that the nurses and aides are doing their individualized patient care--bathing, changing beds, taking patients for x-rays, therapy, etc. Consequently, you stand a much greater chance of encumbering their work and also of finding your prospect out of his room and your trip and time wasted. If the hospital has limited visiting hours, a time just before regular visiting hours or just after may be the best time to avoid running into a host of other visitors in the room or ward. However, if visiting in the evening after regular hours, be sure to make the visit short so as not to disturb others.
In small communities you will soon be acquainted with the hospital staff personnel so that they will recognize: you on sight. However, in large metropolitan areas where you are continually going to new hospitals, where you are unfamiliar with their facility layout and they do not recognize you as a minister, simply step up to the information desk or table and state that you are a minister and request with a smile, patient-room information. The next time you visit you need not do so.
Many hospitals have denomination file-listings open to the clergy. If so, check those for "Baptist" or "no preference." Some hospitals have a "New admission file" open to clergy. If so, check that for leads. However, do not call indiscriminately on every new admissioned person. This will be greatly resented by other pastors and the staff and hurt your testimony. After all, you are not the hospital chaplain.
There may be rare cases in smaller towns and with smaller hospitals where you might be able to develop a close relationship with the hospital administrator and be appointed hospital chaplain, bringing extra opportunities to visit and demanding regularly much extra time expended. A situation like this will be rare, however, but one can be alert to it as a possibility.
It is good always to carry a large black Bible, not as a sign of personal piety but as a badge of office. Most liturgical church ministers wear turned-around collars and many have little spiritual comfort to offer because of neglect of the Bible. The sight of a Bible is a good conscience-quickener and will usually impress viewers that you are not simply a "charity" parson making a "cheer-you-up" call, but that you have a message from the Book to deliver.
In most cases a call on a hospital patient should be brief. Especially is this true if the patient seems tired or is afflicted with pain. Any prolonged visit--unless specially requested--can make the visit an unpleasant experience for the patient rather than a blessing.
If the individual is in severe pain or weakness soon after surgery, the visit should be especially brief. Simply express your compassionate understanding of his condition, reminding him of the Saviour's compassion, knowledge, concern and presence. Then after just a couple verses of Scripture promises, go right into prayer without saying so, get ahold of God, though without an emotional expression and briefly commend him to the promise read and to the healing of the Great Physician. Then with a parting word of encouragement, assurance of the prayers of the church family and a promise of a soon return, leave. The above would apply also to visiting a patient in intensive care.
If the individual is simply in the hospital for a check-up and for the most part feels well, has few callers and in one way or another there is indication that he desires a rather lengthy visit, then this may be. However, not as a rule, because it is very easy on your part to wear out your welcome, and also the demands on your time are such that there are probably others who need your presence in a visit that you otherwise will miss.
If the patient has family callers when you arrive or they arrive after you come, this is a good opportunity for making your call brief. Take a couple of minutes to be friendly with the other visitors and then state that vou must be on your way but would like to have a brief Scripture reading and prayer, and proceed with this and then promptly leave.
Sometimes the one you are visiting is not a Christian, or little known to you, or unknown to you. In these cases you will want to ask permission to read Scripture, and pray. However, suggest it in a positive way. ''How would it be just before I go, if I rcad a brief portion of Scripture and pray?" And before they hardly have time to respond have your Bible up in position to open. If their response is a grudging affirmative just smile and proceed without hesitation. BUT MAKE IT BRIEF, OTHER PEOPLE ARE NOT AS FASCINATED BY YOUR VOICE AND WORDS AS YOU ARE.
Before you Leave your car in the hospital parking area to go into the hospital, have the Scripture in mind you are going to read and probably a marker at the page so you can turn quickly without wasting time in the room thinking or hunting for verses.
Be sure you make a number of return calls while the patient is in the hospital. This is the advantage of brevity on each call. While calling every day is not necessary unless serious illness of a church member, three calls a week are not out of place. Remember the Scripture you have used so you do not repeat.
During the reading of Scripture or after reading of Scripture do not preach a sermon. The Lord may read you to give a few extemporaneous remarks on the text, but if so they should be brief.
Hospital evangelizing is one of the best opportunities to press the claims of Christ. However, there are some pitfalls to be avoided. Human nature reacts against having a gun put to the head and saying "Would you like to accept Christ now?" In other words where there is no conviction of heart, we cannot artificially induce it. The Holy Spirit must always be our teacher. It stands to reason that hospital confinements, especially first or sudden ones, cannot help but cause individuals to think more seriously on spiritual matters. Speak with that advantage in mind but do not be overbearing. Sympathy and love are the words indirecting to Christ.
b. Evangelizing in the Hospital.
If you do not know the individual's relationship to Christ or if you know definitely he is unsaved, you can kindly ask concerning his relationship to Christ. You might even begin by asking concerning his church background and then lead into salvation. Give them a chance to talk. If God has been using this hospital experience to soften the heart, this will be the opportunity for them to express it. If they seem hard and react with coldness and adamancy concerning your invitation to Christ, do not continue any pressure. Then return to a few minutes discussion about something of current interest and conclude with Scripture and prayer. Leave with a good attitude so that door is open for further and continued visitation.
If the indiviidual should be ready to accept Christ, proceed as you would with anyone else in personal dealing. Always take advantage to speak briefly with the roommate or mates of the one you are visiting and look for opportunity to present Christ. You may find someone just ripe for leading to Christ, and someone who dearly needs a compassionate interest in their condition.
It is always good to have a good assortment of tracts with you in hospital calling so that you will have just the right one to leave both in case of Christian or Non-Christtan. It is also good to be prepared to bring booklets or paperback books to meet specific needs of patients with whom you are well acquainted. A Pastor would do well to take in the car with him in calling, a box or a case of assorted tracts and booklets.
One may be called to the hospital in the case of a serious accident where the victim is in critical condition. If the victim is unconscious then there is no point in disturbing doctors and nurses in the emergency room. Later when removed to either intensive care or his own room, the Pastor can have prayer in the room. Until that time the Pastor's concern is the family and he must stay with them having prayer when first joining them and then reminding them of Scripture promises and giving words of encouragement as God gives to him. The length of stay will be dictated by circumstances of the case.
Should in rare cases the critical condition patient be dying and yet be conscious, the doctors will inform of this and indicate a brevity of time left. You should thus stay with the patient to the end holding the hand if that seems desirable on the patient's part. If acknowledgedly a christian, quote wonderful promises like John 14: 1-6, Psalm and Hebrews 13:15b.
If there ia a question as to salvation, say without emotion, "(first name), have you made your peace with God through Christ?" If answer is "Yes", but you desire some more affirmation, you might say, "Have you in the past at some particular time received Christ as your personal Saviour and do you have the assurance you are ready to meet God?" Then on the basis of the response you take it from there.
If the original response was "I'm not sure," or "No, I haven't," then proceed as in leading any one to Christ but make it brief and get the individual to pray briefly a prayer of acceptance of Christ. Then you pray briefly a prayer of assurance. After prayer give further verses of assurance.
In cases where church members are to have major surgery, the Pastor should ascertain at what time the patient is to be taken for surgery from his room and then to get there at least one hour beforehand which is about the time the first sedative will be given. Read brief Scripture and pray. Work in Scripture promises in your hospital prayer. The patient will become drowsy about 1/2 hour before surgery. Stay in the hospital room until they wheel the patient to surgery. Stay with the member or members of the family until the patient is out of surgery and the surgeon has given to the family members a report of success of the operation.
As a patient after major surgery will probably be in the recovery room and really too groggy to know what is going on, it is not necessary to go to the patient and have prayer. Wait for four to six hours later and come back to the hospital and visit when patient is back in his room. This time reading of Scripture can be omitted but in brief prayer work in Scriptural promises. Remember that the patient, though now out from anesthetic, is probably in a lot of bodily distress. Say little and do not expect them to talk. Let what little you say be words of sympathetic understanding and encouragement.
There may be a few cases where you have been informed that the case is hopelessly terminal. In most all cases it would be best not to acknowledge this to the patient even if the patient so informs you. Under no condition tell the patient so unless the family should so state to the patient. However, because with God, who raises from the dead, there is no hopeless case and miracles are always possible even at the last moment, continue to pray and hope as long as there is life.
A cancer patient, a woman with an advaticed state of cancer, and undergoing a great deal of suffering, asked me with great emotion, from her hospital bed, "Pastor, am I not going to get better? " Knowing from her physicians report that humanly speaking she had only a couple of weeks to live, I replied, "I am praying that God may see fit to touch your body in a wonderful way and raise you back in God's hands for a marvelous healing, if it be His will." Thus, I did not give her a false hope of certain recovery and at the same time I did not short change the power of God to heal miraculously.
If a person with a terminal illness is unsaved, then the claims of Christ should be pushed strongly, and unless the family insists otherwise the individual should be made aware of the terminal nature of his illness.
When rare occasion comes to be with a family in the hospital at the any-moment anticipation of death, say little after having Scripture and prayer except of promises of God's Word and encouragement of how God will provide, with always keeping a ray of hope burning. Your presence with them in such a case of grief and anxiety is the important thing. When death is announced have a brief Scripture and prayer again. Then set to arranging for helping the family in the immediate tasks ahead.
There may be a few cases where the health of the expectant mother is very precarious. In those cases the Pastor ought to wait with the expectant father until the baby is born and the mother is out of danger.
In the average case, the Pastor should call the next day after the baby is born when the mother will normally feel quite a bit better. The visit may be brief with congratulations; a look at the baby through the nursery window; a remark as to how cute the baby is (aren't al1 babies? ) and some general family and church chit-chat before brief Scripture and prayer. One visit to see a mother after the birth of the baby before her hospital release is enough unless you happen to be there visiting other patients. Then drop in just to say hello and to have prayer. Remember, most OB sections usually have strict visiting hours.
Once in a while you may find a situation, especially where hospitals are short of help, where the patient you are visiting is not being properly cared for. In this case you must be careful not to assert unbridled indignation but simply call to the attention of the nurse at the desk the obvious unfilled need and get the promise of quick remedy. Then stay right in the room until that correction is made. These will be very infrequent and scarcely occuring conditions, but you must be alert to such a possibility.
In some cases, especially in maternity or children's wards, you may be requested to put on a surgical gown. They are usually green in color and slip on backwards tieing in back. There are no sizes. Just reach in back of yourself and tie bows with the strings. Upon completion of the visit remove the gown at the area where you received it and deposit it in used laundry container. The gowns are always washed after one usage.
This is considerably different than speaking with adult patients. Unless they both know you real well and are very talkative, expect them to be rather non-communicative. You will seek mainly to converse by questions proferred which you hope they will answer. Some will be quite scared, especially if it is a new experience. Give them a lot of encouragement and bring in some humor if possible. Always bring with you some toy or book (out of church flower fund) and give to those 13 years old or younger.
If child is so young and bashful that there is no response or if it is a baby incapable of response, stay very briefly and have brief prayer. If child is old enough to respond and does, quote a few one verse Scripture promises or Psalm 23 and then have brief prayer before leaving.
same day when made aware of illness in harmony
with b. below.
4. Calling on those ill at home.
do not call simply because Mrs. Jones reports a stomach ache or there is a case of the one day flu. It ought to be a condition which has already existed several days and has required medical attention or one which if it has not existed several days is reported to be of severe intensity and might require hospitalization.
such calls will be limited to the membership or others closely identified with your church. Call on outsiders in such circumstances only when suggestion has come directly or indirectly from them.
and VERY BRIEF if the individual is in considerable pain or otherwise real ill.
its symptoms; and circumstances of occurrence. Be careful; don't play the part of a diagnosing physician. However, with experience you may be able to suggest in certain cases if you think their case calls for special medical attention.
e. Express corcern about the illness;
If they are able to converse freely (as in the case of a broken limb) dwell on interesting items of mutual concern, and secular concerns are not inappropriate.
f. Always manifest a cheerful positive attitude.
Make your prayer positive quoting freely some wonderful promises of God.
g. Always close with brief Bible reading and prayer.
a wonderfully fruitful ministry of comfort and blessing in the name of Christ.
5. Calling in cases where death is involved.
when called in these situations, putting everything else aside no matter what the situation is.
b. Must respond immediately
you will be contacted first, in case of members or others who look to you as their pastor you should go when you first hear of the situation regardless of whether they have personally notified you.
wait until you are called. However, if not called and you have had some contact with the family, it is always good to make a brief call during the visitation hours at the funeral home.
and there is much shock.
e. Where death is unexpected
or magic formula to erase the shock and grief.
(1) You have no magic words
wonderful Scripture promises
you can quote. Have some in mind on your way to meet the bereaved.
may be an arm around your brother in Christ or your wifes arm around a bereaved sister in Christ as you console. A few sincere tears might help but one would need to be careful and not add to emotional instability.
(3) The most important thing
to you the circumstances of the death.
for the funeral. Usually either a funeral home has already been called or they have in mind whom they want called. If they don't then you can suggest.
(5) Then discuss arrangemerts
to make phone calls to relatives; to take them to the funeral home; to get others of the church to assist in any home projects as for instance taking care of children, etc., or getting someone to stay with them. YOU CANNOT BE TOO HELPFUL AND ENCOURAGING AT THIS POINT. DO ALL YOU CAN IN THE NAME OF JESUS. THEY WILL NEVER FORGET IT.
above apply though as a rule the emotional strain is not nearly as severe.
f. Where death is the result of lingering illness or gradually
be sure that you make repeated calls after the funeral and continue to be a help to them in making their adjustments afterwards. DO NOT FORGET THE BEREAVED IN THE MONTHS AFTER THE FUNERAL. THIS IS OFTEN WHERE THE IMPACT HITS THE HARDEST.
(2) In both e. and f. cases above,
will determine to some extent the amount of calling done on members.
B. Membership Calling
a. The size of the church
may well determine the practice expected
b. The pattern of the past
a pastorale new to you, you will want to call on every family as soon as possible.
c. Certainly when taking over
unless the church is of unusually large size should be calling on each member's home at least once a year.
d. A minimum calling goal
that you will be calling on homes of key members, officers and workers in the church rather frequently. While phone calls save time, there are many planning details, incidents, and of getting communication straight and talking over situations at length that are much facilitated by a face to face confrontation rather than over a phone.
of over friendliness with a little clique of the congregation and calling on them just for fellowship to the exclusion of others.
f. However, you must be aware
Be judicious in length of calls. Especially is this true if only the woman is at home, when the call should be comparatively brief. With few exceptions it is better to make the call brief or briefer than the family would desire, rather than overdoing and making them wish you'd leave but having to be polite.
for calls on the homes of members are afternoon or evenings .
to give some fore warning by telephone to see if it is convenient for you to come. No housewife is appreciative of having the preacher call when the living room is in a messy condition.
b. It is best if possible
be very observant for areas where you might help.
a. In calling on members' homes
for the families where there is an unsaved mate or unsaved parents. Call as much as you can with prudence. You may do well not to press them relentlessly for salvation, but you can win their friendship and get promises from them to come to church.
on members and others closely connected with the church are those growing out of emergencies and they must always receive prompt attention and priority without fail.
to make positive impressions for the work of Christ in your (mutual) church when calling on members.
nursemaid occasionally to a few members who are chronically miffed. This can be done with calls that are not overly lengthy. Seek to humor them and reassure them of their necessity in the cause of Christ and the church and of your appreciation of them. Suggest kindly that they had mix interpreted and that you deeply regret it. Show compassion. People will respond to compassion.
before leaving a member's home unless it is one of those "just in the door and out of the door" occasions.
f. Always have brief prayer
on members be ready and offer words of encouragement and praise for their work for Christ in the church. Make them feel important. They are!
in itself and is perhaps best considered in the course of evangelizing in the local church and considered with great detail.
C. Outreach Calling.
1. General observations.
a. This is a specialized area
without a vigorous calling program that can expect any measureable growth.
b. Rare will be the church
and in rural areas there ought to be a regular church calling program though it may not be as flamboyant or extensive as in a metropolitan area
c. Even in small churches
in most metropolitan areas is especially keen and thus a vigorous calling program highly essential. On the other hand such a situation provides a great field for evangelizing and building a large work for Christ.
ought to think "big" in projecting plans for their church. This must include an extensive program of calling. Let's think in terms of building "great" churches to the glory of God.
this will be in the hands of the pastor. About the only exception will be when the church is large enough to have an assistant pastor in charge of a visitation program.
exhibit a continuous enthusiasm that becomes infectuous with his people.
lay out the calling program and do so with thoroughness.
enlist clerical help in setting up the instruction and record details for the calling. In large churches the church secretary will do this. In other churches someone of responsibility and efficiency will do it. Probably a woman and perhaps the Sunday School secretary would be a logical individual.
on prospects turned up through attendance at services; neighborhood contacts; miscellaneous contacts. The usual type.
3. Implementation of outreach calling.
a. Various types of programs.
especially new housing sections in metropolitan areas. This calls as a rule for special organized effort on Saturday or Sunday afternoon.
(2) Cold canvas of new areas,
each time before a new area is canvassed in a cold canvas project.
b. Periodic instruction should be given to callers.
(1) In special sessions before calling.
(2) Instruction in calling mechanics.
(3) Instruction in calling appearance.
(4) Instruction in calling conversation
( 5 ) Instruction in witnessing.
(6) Instruction in leading,a person to Christ.
(7) Special instruction session
and follow it relentlessly, having no other church programs on that night ever. (It might be well to keep one night a week completely absent of any church meetings. Not infrequently mates complain that husband or wife are every night at the church).
c. Have a weekly calling evening
send callers by twos.
teams work well, teams of two men are particularly effective and teams of two women are acceptable.
(2) While husband and wife
to have youth call on youth and Sunday School teachers call on pupils' homes but still utilizing the calling by teams of two.
an alternate afternoon calling time for women who cannot be out evenings.
seem to work out the best for most churches. More people are home on Monday evenings but Thursday is close to the following Sunday services.
(5) Monday or Thursday evenings
d. Promoting church calling:
by relating success accounts of calling experiences.
teachers meetings. Some Sunday Schools require their teachers to call.
(3) In the church bulletin.
(4) In Sunday School
evening prayer meeting.
(5) In the Youth Group meetings.
(6) At the Wednesday
should be back at the church when the callers check in and they can relate details to him. He may want to put additional notes on the cards after they have informed him about the calls.
e. Conserving church calling.
(1) Have a good record system.
(2) Keep very accurate records.
(3) If possible the pastor
be certain to follow up quickly any ripe prospects or any problem situations unearthed. An alert pastor can turn the results of a calling night into a tremendously profitable and helpful assistance to his work.