Timely and effective pastoral care is vitally important to the health and well being of any congregation. People need to feel remembered by their religious community during life’s trials and triumphs. As a community of memory, a church serves its people best when it celebrates their service and success, and acknowledges their absence and losses. People feel connected to their community when they feel remembered and honored as valuable individuals by their church. In times of joy and sorrow, congregants have a right to expect that their church community will be there to support them. I feel that effective pastoral care is the glue that holds a church together.
Difficult as it can be at times, providing pastoral care to members is one of the things that I love most and do best as a minister. I genuinely care for the members of the congregation I serve and easily empathize with the peaks and valleys of life. I enjoy the time spent with individual congregants and derive real satisfaction from this aspect of my ministry.
However, I realize that I am not always able to personally attend to every pastoral need of each congregant, especially in a large church. The best pastoral care in any congregation occurs when there is a network of lay people actively monitoring the pulse of the congregation and staying alert to important changes in the lives of individuals and families in the congregation. The larger a congregation is, the more a minister must rely on the laity to care for one another and advise the minister about people in need of a pastoral visit or counseling. For a church to succeed fully as a caring, remembering community, the entire congregation must contribute to the pastoral outreach effort.
An effective pastoral care network in the church has a positive impact on virtually every aspect of church. Good pastoral care supports all aspects of church programming, from volunteer recruitment to fundraising to attendance at Sunday services. When people are cared for and attended to by their church community in times of personal crisis and success, they tend to remember for a long time and express their gratitude tenfold.