The heart of our Care Ministry Network can best be described by the acronym C-A-R-E. These four areas described by this acronym are what a Care Pastor does and also tell us what this ministry is all about. C-A-R-E describes the functions required by each member of the entire care team — not just the Care Pastors. All of what we envision to encompass in our care ministry flows from these four qualities. C-A-R-E can aptly also be described as the job description of the Care Pastors.
If these four commitments are performed effectively, quality care will be the result in every church. If we take “care” out of the equation, labor is all that is left. We want the C.A.R.E culture to become so evident that our church will become known as The Caring Place!
The Application of C-A-R-E
Let’s start off by clarifying each of these segments with a one- line description. It always makes it easier to comprehend, and more importantly, to remember.
C—Contact each family on a regular basis
A—Availability – be available to your flock
R—Reach out in prayer on behalf of each family consistently
E—Exemplify a Christian lifestyle – be an example
Step One – Contact
The fundamental expectation is for Care Pastors to make a minimum of one personal contact per month with each family who is under their care. They can do this by means of a personal visit to people’s home, if acceptable, or at minimum, a meaningful phone call with purpose. Your role is to be pastoral, which means displaying care and concern, creating acceptance, and showing love.
When Care Pastors make their first contact with their families, however, the meeting should be a one-on-one, eye-to-eye visit. You should not make this particular contact by means of a phone call, email, text, or whatever other way. The main purpose of the first contact is to get acquainted, explain the ministry and clarify expectations of the relationship. Thereafter the “Five Points of Contact” should be followed.
It’s incredibly difficult to build a relationship with anyone without having first made a personal contact. You can never develop a relationship from a distance. You can only do so up close. Your entire ministry effort becomes very easy once you meet the people you are going to serve, not only now, but also in the future. We start our ministry involvement with contact and then continue with contact.
Note: In this module discussion we are only dealing with the fact that we have to develop contacts, but later in Chapter Six, we will describe how contacts should be made and how contact should be maintained.
Step Two – Availability
If building relationships is what community is all about, then availability seems to be the obvious requirement for Care Pastors. Being available also means being accessible. You should be available to your flock members when they have personal concerns they would like to share with you, or when they simply want to talk. Be very visible especially on Sundays and other times of church gatherings — before, during, and after each service. This means that you should come to church early, and stay late, rather than come late and leave early.
Being available also requires Care Pastors to provide their flock members with their contact information, including telephone numbers, email address, etc. Integrity will demand that Care Pastors receive and/ or return calls. I have, at times, heard the reluctance of Care Pastors to provide their phone numbers to their flocks. Remember, you are not handing out your information to everybody and his brother. You are giving it to your trusted friends. So, share your contact information and stay available.
Many churches provide their Care Pastors with pre-printed cards that have the church’s name, address, and contact information on it, plus the name and contact information of the Care Pastor. This is not only helpful to hand to flock members, but a helpful tool for hospital visitation and other occasions.
Care Pastors should be willing to assist their people in any way possible. If you cannot provide the help they need, make every attempt to connect them with someone who can and be sure to follow through. Or, find the answer and pass it along to the inquirer. Being a helpful channel in this way only helps to strengthen relationships.
Step Three – Reach out in prayer
Prayer should be the priority of a Care Pastor’s ministry. As Mel Steinbron says, “If prayer is all the pastoring some people receive, it’s already more than most are getting.” At times you may find people who would say, “Don’t visit me,” but you will never find anyone who would say, “Don’t pray for me.”
Praying for your group each by name has great results:
- It develops a joint concern for the burdens and needs for your flock members. You begin to feel their passion.
- It silently establishes a bond. You simply cannot help to sense closeness to a person you are praying for in sincerity on a regular basis.
- It deepens a sense of accountability. Through your efforts of praying for your people in sincere devotion, it allows God the opportunity to lay the burden of care and concern squarely upon your shoulders and infuses you with divine love for them.
- It is a productive time between God and you. Not only do these moments of prayer avail Care Pastors the opportunity to pray for their flock members, but the warmth of the atmosphere also creates precious moments that God could speak to them intimately.
- It becomes the catalyst that keeps you able to function. Prayer is the key to be an effective Care Pastor. There is no way that any person could lose passion for the care ministry if they have developed disciplined prayer for their flock members. When you stop praying, you will stop pastoring. I have often found that people who become discouraged in their ministry efforts are those who are not committed in prayer for their people. Pray for your People Every day!
Care Pastors are encouraged to pray for their people every day. This could very well be one of the most important things they can do for them. When we pray for people with love, devotion, and compassion the Holy Spirit will help us understand what they are facing and guide us in the best way we can minister to them.
As Christians, we know we are also people of the Spirit. If we remain very sensitive to the whisper of the Holy Spirit, while praying for an individual or couple, He will lead and guide us to understand exactly how to pray and even what to pray for. In that way, we will be able to minister to our people on a much higher level. An encouraging call from you at the right moment may make a world of difference to a discouraged member.
A great way to be effective in your prayers for your families is to instead of praying for them generally, to instead pray for only one family per day and zero in on them. Mention them by name, one-by- one, and allow the Holy Spirit to direct you.
Step Four – Exemplify a Christian Lifestyle
It almost sounds superfluous to say, but Care Pastors should be an example to their people all the time. Not only at church events, or within their flock, but every day of the week, wherever they go. People may see or hear you at times and places you don’t even realize. Watch what you say and do at the grocery store, at the cashier’s desk, in the parking lot, at a traffic light, etc. Care Pastors should also guard what they say about other people — including criticism of their pastor, church leaders or other church members.
1 Timothy 4:12 says, “. . . be an example to the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”
1 Thessalonians 5:22 admonish us to “Abstain from all appearance of evil.”
Reality Fact: You can fail on the first three areas of C-A-R-E and may possibly even get away with it — at least for a while — but if you fail in being an example, you will assuredly lose the confidence or support of your people. They simply won’t trust you and the fruit of your ministry will be minimal. I realize the great responsibility it places on a Care Pastor, but then, we should all as Christians already live exemplary lives in any case.
Being an example should not imply that the Care Pastor is perfect, superior to the flock member, more mature, or even more qualified. It does suggest the need to be humble, faithful, and unselfish. It also suggests that we are all friends traveling the same road to the same destiny, learning from one another how to grow and develop spiritually. Friendship, relationship, and companionship — they all lead to mutual ministry. Through camaraderie people give something of themselves to each other. We can all learn from one another.
This article is an excerpt from John Bosman’s book, The Care Revolution Handbook for Pastors and Leaders.