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Pastoral Care System

We know the biblical mandate of caring for the flock. I Peter 5:2 says, “ Shepherd God’s flock among you, not overseeing out of compulsion but freely, according to God’s will; not for the money but eagerly; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.” In Acts 20:28 Paul gives us more on this subject, “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock that the Holy Spirit has appointed you to as overseers, to shepherd the church of God, which He purchased with His own blood.”

Systems should always interconnect and overlap with one another. Ministry care and small groups are a perfect example of this. Small groups should be your first responders to the needs and emergencies that arise within their group. It should not be the responsibility of the pastor to personally attend to everyone but to make sure that everyone is cared for. Yes, everyone should receive pastoral care and no one should be responsible to care for more than ten to twelve people. A care system ensures that people care for each other and feel loved.

A caring shepherd makes sure that the flock God has led Him to pastor is ministered to properly. This involves developing a system that will help in making sure no one slips through the cracks but is lovingly ministered to. People bond to a church when they feel that they belong. Every person who attends needs a role and a relationship in order to feel like they are truly part of your church. A role is a place of service and a relationship means a place in a group. 
In order to offer people a role, you must develop serving teams.

In order to offer people relationships, you must develop Small Groups or Sunday School Classes. 
In general terms, the more you develop roles and relationships, the more your church will grow. A good care system requires as least three components: groups, teams, and then personal pastoral care. These provide people a place to belong, a place to serve, and people who care about them. A great definition of community is “People knowing and being known, loving and being loved, serving and being served, celebrating and being celebrated.”

This question must then be asked as you think through developing a good system. What has to happen for people to know, love, serve, and celebrate each other? Today we will focus on caring for people properly and in a spiritually healthy manner. The reality is that the small group leader is one of the most important members in your church. They are the ones who keep watch over their group as they pray for them and provide care as needed.

Dynamic Church Planting International gives this job description for a small group leader, “To help 3 to 10 people learn biblical truth and experience God while developing relationships with Christ, you, and other people.” We call these groups “Connection” groups and we tell everyone regularly that the best way to get “connected” is by participating in one. In our C-3 ministry statement we say we desire to be centered on God, connected to one another, and compassionate for our city. If people do not want to slip through the cracks they must get connected.

In order to build a good system of ministry care, begin with the small groups (Sunday School classes, Men’s & Women’s Bible studies, etc.) as your first responders to watch over those under their care. Then make sure your ministry leaders have their eyes on the needs of those who are serving on their teams such as greeters, music, and others who serve. Lastly, have a pastoral care team who also is watching for those who need care, whether on a regular basis or for a special occasion. This team needs to re recruited and trained on how to care.

These individuals can come from several places within the church. They may be deacons who have been called by the church to care for the widows and others in the church. Consider what a deacon care program would look like and set a systematic way of people being checked on and visited. Another option would be to look for some who have retired from their full time work, have the gift of shepherding or mercy, and really feel a call to minster in this way. There are always those who love being a part of a team that is focused on ministry care.

In the area of ministry care, Dynamic Church Planting International offers this process.

  1. Model what care ministry looks like by encouraging your potential workers to accompany you as you care for people.
  2. Mentor them by sharing what you are doing and why you are doing it.
  3. Monitor them as you begin to give care assignments. Give encouragement, guidance, and coaching as you continue to disciple them.
  4. Multiply workers by asking them to recruit others to the care ministry.

Hopefully, the workers you recruit will then recruit others to the pastoral care ministry. If there is no multiplication, pray for other workers who will not only provide ministry care but also raise up more ministry team members. Always be looking to develop workers and team members three deep. Every leader needs to be actively looking for an apprentice to train so that the ministry can multiply. It is not good when one person is the only one who knows what is going on. Make sure your leaders are training, mentoring, and coaching others up the leadership ladder.

Once I was asked if as a pastor I had a problem visiting the sick, shut-ins, and those in the hospital. By the way, it is a great question because we should all be willing to do what needs to be done. I replied that I did not have a problem with it and then asked him if he had a problem with it? You see, it takes a team of caring individuals and you cannot afford to build a system that is impossible to sustain.

Reproduction System

We know that God is a God of systems because of His design of the universe (solar system) and of the human body. Is there a system you would be willing to live without for one day? You couldn’t make it without the circulatory system because you would die without your heart beating and pumping your blood to keep you alive. If you gave up the skeletal system you would just be a blob in the floor and survival would be very short lived. Without the respiratory system you would not be able to breath and without air your life would be over in minutes.

There is a time to get to get our bodies scanned to see whether they are healthy or not. There is much debate and difference of opinion over whether the benefits of a full body scan is greater than the danger of the radiation used while performing it. Could it be that many churches are afraid of what a full spiritual scan of their body of believers might reveal? It would be good for all of us individually and corporately to lay back on God’s examination table and allow Him to expose our areas of sickness, disease, and unhealthy practices.

There is one system you could survive without and that is the reproductive system. You could do well but only for one generation. When you did finally die there would be no one else to carry on. Maybe this is a picture of many churches today. We have focused on all of the systems to care for who we already have but have forgotten about the importance of reproduction and multiplication. The church can get by for a period of time and even thrive at times but it will not reproduce the fruit that God has challenged us to multiply.

We need this spiritual examination to expose any areas of darkness to His light. Ephesians 5:13-14 says, “Everything exposed by the light is made clear, for what makes everything clear is light.” We should go ahead and submit to this body scan now because I Corinthians 4:5 tells us that one day He will bring to light what was hidden in darkness and He will reveal the intentions of our hearts. Why wait? Schedule this scan of your body of believers now and determine how well you are reproducing disciples, leaders, and churches.

Creating systems and using God-centered techniques will ultimately expand your capacity to care for your people and reach out. Good systems save you stress, time, energy, money, and a lot of headaches. These systems should follow a process that enables them to be gospel-centered and effective as well. In the area of outreach there can be much frenetic activity while seeing very few results. We know the Bible says one plants, one waters, and God gives the increase…but how should that impact the system we develop?

  1. We should build our systems firmly on the foundation of what the scriptures teach. We are commanded to share His glory with all the nations and to be fishers of men.
  2. Then we need to determine if that is really something we truly value. Does our lifestyle show that we are committed to reaching unbelievers with the truth of the gospel? When is the last time we shared the gospel with anyone or even invited him or her to church, a small group, or an event in order to bring him or her closer to Christ? If it is a value it drives us to do something about it.
  3. You begin with a biblical principle that leads to a value, which becomes tasks and habits. These are the things you do to make the value a reality in your daily life. What could you improve on in order to have a better opportunity to share the love of Christ with unbelievers? Matt Perman puts it this way, “To be productive means to get the right things done…To be effective is to get done what God wants done.” Our tasks and habits should be focused in order to maximize the opportunities we have every day.

Systems are designed to enhance our effectiveness. It is the way we organize the tasks we are performing. These are focused on the goals we have which should be in obedience to the Great Commission and doing everything for His glory. Reaching that goal is what brings fulfillment by having discerned what pleases Him. The missing ingredient is strategies, which are the actual action steps needed to find that fulfillment. Many develop systems and the reality is that all of us function within a system whether it is a good one or a bad one.

Strategies are what connect the system to the goal but they must be driven by a desire to be obedient. Matt Perman continues, “If we aren’t abounding in good work, the problem is likely not a lack of opportunity but a lack of desire.” Do we not have opportunity to share the love of Christ everyday? When we are in the store and the salesperson accidentally gives us the wrong information how will we respond? When the waiter is forgetful and takes too long on our order how will we react? Will we be able to talk to them about the love of Jesus?

What strategies do you have to be a light for Christ daily? You don’t have to volunteer at the local soup kitchen or go on a mission trip to be a witness. Here is a full proof strategy; be ready to arise and shine for Jesus every single day knowing you will have the opportunity to either to bring people closer to Christ or push them farther away. God commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves and we can display that in very practical ways every single day in very ordinary ways. Maybe the real problem is that our daily ordinary is far from God’s plan?