Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Pastoral care

In the church where I serve as an elder we have been thinking about the importance of pastoral care. It's a particular issue as a church grows numerically and I've been doing some thinking and reading aroud the subject.

The Baxter Model by Bishop Wallace Benn set me thinking a few years ago about being more systematic in elder visitation and on re-reading it last week I'm more convinced than ever that it is vital and worthwhile. He takes the view that it is the opportunity for a 'spiritual health check up'. So often our conversations remain rather surface deep and a formal arrangement to discuss spiritual matters gives the pastor permission to ask things that might otherwise be difficult (just like as a family Doctor I am in a position to ask 'awkward' questions), and also allows when meeting with members to raise issues that might otherwise be difficult.

It obviously needs wisdom and humility on the part of the elder but John Murray had some helpful things to say when speaking at a ministerial ordination back in 1960..

I charge you to remember that you are the servant of Christ in this pastoral care which you will exercise. Oh, be friendly to your people, and be humble. Be clothed with humility for 'God resisteth the proud and giveth grace to the humble.' Be clothed with humility in the pastoral visitations and the pastoral duties that you discharge because, if you are not humble, you will not only be offensive to God, but you will soon become offensive to all discerning people. Be friendly, be humble, realize your own limitations and be always ready to receive from those who are taught in the Word as they communicate unto you who teach. But remember that you are the servant of Christ and do not seek to please men, for if you should seek to please men, you are not the servant of Christ. And again, I repeat in that very same connection: Don't be afraid to reprove, don't be afraid to rebuke, just as you may not be afraid to exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine.
'You do not get your sermons from your people, but you get your sermons with your people. You get your sermons from the Word of God, but you must remember that the sermons which you deliver from the Word of God must be relevant. They must be practical in the particular situation in which you are. It is when you move among your people and become acquainted with their needs, become acquainted with the situation in which they are, become acquainted· with their thoughts, become acquainted with their philosophy, become acquainted with their temptations, that the Word of God which you bring forth from this inexhaustible treasure of wisdom and truth will be relevant and will not be abstract and unrelated.'

There's some 'good ol stuff' out there!

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A message from the other side

No, not that side! But thank God got through surgery ok yesterday. And thanks to all for love support and prayer.