Long Term Care: The Obvious But Often Forgotten

As you care for a person or family in a crisis that is long term, there are many things to consider. Some are obvious and some are not. Here are some that may be easily forgotten.

Awareness of Financial and Legal Needs

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Insurance covers less and less medical care and very little in the way of counseling. In many churches, mission committees may have large budgets. Why not increase the size of the mercy/care budget to prepare for these types of crises? There are ways to set up funds for families to help off-set costs. It will be helpful to develop a filing system to help the family keep up with the bills. Consider bringing in a financial planner since it is going to be long term.

Seek the advice of a lawyer if needed. It is important to do this with the family’s permission. If possible, have someone from the small group present at these meetings to take notes so that nothing is forgotten.

Combining Word and Deed

This is a form of care that will be largely deed oriented. The longer it continues, the more the word component of care will become important. In general, unless you
are going to equip your care givers to speak wisely, it is best to encourage them to err
on the side of simply being good listeners. In the midst of long-term suffering there is a cry for understanding. It is here that we need to equip our people to give wise, time-sensitive, Christ-centered counsel as people ask the difficult questions. Helpers can never go wrong by focusing on the Psalms.

This may be an opportunity to teach and equip the broader body within your church. Again, have a trained person assist you in providing meaningful information along with a biblical perspective to help the caregivers think, act and speak in sensitive ways in light of the specific crisis issue.

The Importance of Scripture

The Bible provides guidance for sufferers to express themselves in godly ways and it pulls them out of the temptation to dive inward and become cynical. The following Psalms might prove helpful: Psalm 4, 18, 23, 27, 40, 42, 121, 130 and 142.


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.