Small Group Strategy for Long Term Care

Small groups are typically a well established entity within the church. They become even more critical when a crisis/long-term care situation arises. With this in mind, there is a place for a unique small group which will provide simple, yet strategic care for a longer term need.

1. Identify a Group Leader For the Care Group

The point person not only provides leadership but also serves as a buffer and communication channel between the family and the broader body of Christ. The family is helped and protected by the small group. Based upon the length of time that care will be needed, it may be good to have two people working in tandem with one another as co-leaders. This will insure leadership when one leader is needed elsewhere.

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2. Invite Outside Expertise to Advise the Group
The care group should invite a trained person to help them understand the issue and
provide basic information and perspective on how the situation or crisis will affect the
person and family. The more information you gather at this level, the better. Depending on the nature of the problem, this could mean consulting a social worker, a medical professional, a counselor or any other specialist who may bring helpful perspective to the care needs.

3. Regular Meetings of the Care Group
It is imperative to evaluate on a regular basis. Have the point person bring concerns to the group and communicate information and questions back to the family. Good communication is crucial. This is why the relationships described in the concentric circle diagram (see previous post) are so important. The meetings can be reduced as the situation becomes less acute. 

4. Promote Healthy Communication

With the small group formed, it is vital that they communicate clearly with the
broader church about ongoing needs. They can also protect the family
from being overwhelmed during the early stages when everyone will want to help.
Many churches now have access to helpful electronic means where new information can be regularly posted. If there is no access, information in a bulletin insert may suffice. Another suggestion is to have a designated phone line with updates and the ability to receive information for those offering help. 

Designate a point person in the small group on a weekly basis. Make sure
everyone in the church knows how things are going to be handled and encourage participation in the way that has been outlined. Only emergencies should
bypass this process.


Copyright © 2013 Timothy S. Lane. All rights reserved.


Tim Lane

Dr. Timothy S. Lane is the President of the Institute for Pastoral Care and has a counseling practice in Fayetteville, GA. He is a minister in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), having been ordained in 1991 and a member of Metro-Atlanta Presbytery. Tim has authored Living Without Worry: How to Replace Anxiety with Peace, and co-authored How People Change and Relationships: A Mess Worth Making. He has written several mini-books including PTSD, Forgiving Others, Sex Before Marriage, Family Feuds, Conflict, and Freedom From Guilt.

He has experience in both campus ministry (University of Georgia, 1984-1987) and pastoral ministry where he served as a pastor in Clemson, SC from 1991 until 2001. Beginning in 2001 until 2013, he served as a counselor and faculty at a counseling organization  in Philadelphia, PA. Beginning in 2007, he served as its Executive Director until 2013.

In 2014, Tim and his family re-located to his home state, Georgia, where he formed the non profit ministry the Institute for Pastoral Care. His primary desire and commitment is to help pastors and leaders create or improve their ability to care for the people who attend their churches. For more information about this aspect of Tim's work, please visit the section of this site for the Institute for Pastoral Care. He continues to write, speak and travel both nationally and internationally. Tim is adjunct professor of practical theology at several seminaries where he teaches about pastoral care in the local church.