Every good pastor and church will find themselves frequently visiting people in the hospital. At my church, we visit people who are in the hospital or shut-in every single day. Every church sets up their visitation ministry a bit differently. I explain how we set church’s visitation ministry here: How to Organize a Church Visitation Ministry. But, what do those individual visits look like? I recently gave our staff some best practices:
- Pray before you arrive. You are representing Jesus, ask how He wants to use you.
- Sanitize your hands. Observe signs regarding masks and other contact precautions when entering a room. If you have been sick talk with the XP about whether you should actually visit.
- Turn off your cell phone or set it to silent.
- Have a plan. Know what verses you are going to read. Always have anointing oil. When visiting shut-ins always take communion.
- Introduce yourself. If you don’t know the person, be sure to identify yourself and the fact you are from Calvary. If the door is shut when you arrive, knock before entering.
- Complete the visit, but don’t obstruct the flow. Let the hospital staff do their job, at the same time make sure you do yours, even if you have to be assertive.
- Keep it short. Being a patient can be exhausting. Keep your hospital visits to about 10-15 minutes. For shut-ins, a lot depends on the situation, but 30 minutes is a good rule of thumb.
- Don’t rush out the door, or even seem rushed. Take the time to sit down, always in a chair and never on the bed. Take your coat off and don’t make it seem like you are stopping by just to do a job. If you sense you should stay, then stay. Even if that means you are sitting quietly with the person, not even talking.
- Be sensitive, but not timid. Ask questions about what is going on in their life, but if you sense they are being private don’t press.
- Pray. Always pray for the person you are visiting. Ask permission, but always offer to anoint with oil.
- Remember the family. They often require pastoral care too. A great practice is to call the family after visiting with their loved one.
- Send your report. You should email a report of your visits to *******@*********.***.
In a church of any size, there are always people to be cared for. One way churches often show their love and concern for the church family is through the sending of flowers. Churches can easily have hundreds of people to send flowers to throughout a year, spending thousands of dollars, so it is important to have a policy on when to send them.
Recently, I sat down with our church staff and reviewed our church’s policy on sending flowers. Here is what we covered:
I once heard someone say, “I don’t care if I just barely make it into heaven, as long as I make it through those pearly gates!” I have to be honest, this statement did not sit well with me.
I suppose on one hand I get their point. However you get to heaven, everyone that makes it will enjoy the same eternal reward. Some make it in after a lifetime of faithful service. Others are like the thief crucified next to Jesus, who made a death bed-last minute decision to believe. He believed, and Jesus told him he would be with him in heaven that very day. On one hand, if you make it to heaven, you make it to heaven.
Churches should be the safest place on earth. Churches, however, are full of imperfect people; and where there are imperfect people, things are often not as they should be. The result is that churches have to be extra diligent, and work hard, to be safe. One, often overlooked, area that churches need to focus on is bullying, harassment, and discrimination.
Recently, I conducted a training with our church staff. Here is what we covered:
If you work at a church, or just about anywhere, you probably send and receive a lot of email. You’ve no doubt received some poorly written emails and likely have even sent a few yourself. Recently, I gave our church staff some suggestions for writing better email:
1. Send it “To” the correct people, that is who needs to receive the information and do something with it. We recommend filling in who you are sending the email to last, as it saves you from inadvertently sending the email before you are done.
Churches should be the safest place on earth. There are many things required to make this a reality, one of which is the screening of all volunteers. Unfortunately, not every church does their job. In fact, I recently spoke with a church that hadn’t even been doing basic background checks on their children and youth workers. That is a huge liability for the church. More egregious, it leaves people vulnerable and their trust misplaced.
There are a few steps that a church can take to ensure a safe place for everyone to worship. Here is what my church currently requires for everyone serving in ministry…
My health was precarious. At 32, the doctor was summoning me to her office for diabetes tests. I never exercised. My diet was poor. Actually, poor is an understatement. On average, I drank sixty ounces of Mountain Dew per day and ate Taco Bell at least two or three times a week. Abysmal might be a more apt description. My diet led me into head-to-head combat with kidney stones. The kidney stones won with a knockout, and I would prefer to never fight a rematch.
Determined to shed some weight and get in better shape, I started running. Well, my first attempt was probably more like a fifty-yard shuffle than it was a run. I am pretty sure I made it about one block and about passed out. I was out of breath. My sides were on fire. I just turned around and walked home, defeated.
A lot of work goes into preaching. Most pastors spend between 10 and 18 hours a week working on their sermons, with many spending more than 20 or even 30 hours. With all that work going into preparing a sermon, it can be a bit disheartening to know that most people forget most of what they hear within days, if not hours.
Recently I was challenged to think more critically about my preaching, specifically when it comes to application. Often when we preach, the application of that preaching is for use in the church, or in our private Christian lives. It may be how to serve in ministry, how to pray, read our Bibles, or live out any other number of Christian disciplines. There is certainly nothing wrong with sermons that teach us how do any of this, as they are a part of Christian life and growing in these areas is drastically needed. We need to preach sermons that cover these topics. However, effective preaching, preaching that sticks with people, should cover far more ground.
On a muggy night in September of 1751, a six story tenement in Edinburgh, Scotland, collapsed. What should have shocked many, shocked no one, as this was just one building among many made of rickety old boards. The likelihood of a building failing in Edinburgh was about as likely as rain on a cloudy day. Yet, people lived in them as there was no space for new neighborhoods to be built. The Nor’ Loch bordered the city to the north. The lake had been made for defense, which it kindly provided, but it was neglected and was now only stocked with sewage. When the people managed to dodge falling buildings and sewage filled waters, it was the fires, disease, and crime that caught them off guard. Edinburgh was a ghetto, and it needed help.
However, help would not come. Scotland hadn’t held royal court since 1603. Help from their federal government was about as likely as suddenly finding cell service when your car has broken down on a deserted mountain highway. People would also not get any assistance from their local city government. The city which had limited resources, was also led by a buffoonary of men. They often held their meetings in taverns, acting more like drunken frat boys than officials running a city. The possibility of the citizens of Edinburgh receiving help from anyone in government seemed bleak.