Practical Strategies For Pastoral Care

Practical Helps

Since the need for longer term care is so high, what should be in place and ready to be activated in these kinds of situations?

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  • Basic Care Should Already Be In Place

Small groups, Sunday school classes, other groupings, and a basic care committee need to be in place already (moving transitions, welcome committee, new baby, meals, etc.). If there is not a culture of care at this level, then it will be even harder when the need for long term care arises. Any and every church should develop a care ministry that begins here and covers the basics. Make this a ministry team that includes men and women.

  • Form a Small Group to Oversee Care When A Specific Need Arises

When long term care needs arise, the critical first step is to form a small group to respond and manage the care. Having a group, instead of a single individual is critical to preventing helper burn out. Begin the process with someone making contact with the family and asking for permission to form a care group. Suggest names and/or ask them for people with whom they will feel comfortable.

Asking for permission needs to pervade the entire process or the family will likely feel micro-managed. Having the family grant permission honors them and communicates that though things may be hard, they are not out of control.

A good support group can provide stability. They need to ask good questions, listen to the family, receive good information, see the needs, ask for permission to act, organize a system that includes all who want to help, implement and oversee the daily plan, make changes when necessary, and remain flexible. Not a small task!

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  • Don’t Make an Elder or a Deacon the Organizer

This is a suggestion learned from experience and should be carefully considered. An elder or deacon may be on the team but should not lead it because their focus should be on providing oversight and care for the care-givers. Usually you can identify someone outside the elder or deacon board who has strong administrative gifts to provide leadership and structure for the care team. Elders and deacons may certainly assist and be involved but they should be thinking about the pastoral needs of the care group itself. In addition, the elder and deacon can provide a good link to the larger elder/deacon board.


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.