Pastor's Blog

Pastor's Note - September 14

Today, if you are a member or regular attender, you should receive an email about Pastoral Care Rosters, That email will explain a little bit more about what that means. Here in this note, I want to talk briefly about pastoral visitation. It’s an “old-school concept,” it seems. But it’s a practice that I think is valuable. In the “olden” days, pastors and elders would make a regular practice of “visiting” their congregants in their homes. The purpose of the visit would be to teach, listen, talk, and pray. It would be a chance to catechize in the faith, check on the state of the home, hear the concerns of the members, and pray together. The Puritan pastor Richard Baxter essentially evangelized and disciples his entire town through a rigid system of pastoral visitation, visiting a number of homes per day, for about 15 minutes per visit (and taking along younger pastors/elders with him to train them in the work). Given our context and culture, we can’t copy Baxter’s practice. But we can do visitation in the same spirit. All that to say, I would like you to develop an expectation of pastoral visitation. What I mean by that is, I want all of our elders to anticipate visiting people in their homes (or at a neutral location if preferable). And I would like our people to expect a visit from an elder of the church. Even better if you would request it, as we are not mind-readers and won’t always know when a visit is needed or expected. And I would clarify that while I can visit many in the church, I can’t visit everyone, and this is a work that should be and must be shared by a group of pastor/elders. That aside, this is my invitation for you to invite a visit, and schedule one with your pastor/elder. It need not have a specific agenda, or arise out of a specific need. Most often, the visit should simply be checking in! I know this practice may seem odd or strange to some, especially younger generations, as the practice has fallen out of vogue. But we take our cars in for regular inspections. We visit our dentists for annual cleanings and checkups. We have checkups with our doctors. We visit with financial planners to check on the state of our finances. It seems to me that if we take the time to check on our cars, teeth, bodies, and bank accounts, we ought to take time to reflect, with a shepherd, about the states of our souls as well. What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts about this idea of pastoral visitation.

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