I will be moving into a solo pastorate call in the near future...first call.
Part 1 was about scheduling --- here is part 2 on pastoral care in the congregation and other helpful hints on solo pastoring:
Are there other tidbits of knowledge on how to navigate the daily tasks so that I do have time for myself. (See last week’s ATM for many helpful tips on scheduling).
I think the church is capable of functioning without the pastor at every event...and it should be that way. I also think as we move into newer ways of "being" that pastoral care is a congregational activity, not just a pastoral activity. I am searching for a new "name" to call this care.
What helpful tips do you have for solo pastor?
From Singing Owl:
In a church long ago and far away we had such a ministry. We called them The Care Team and what was provided was Tender Loving Care. They visited shut ins and hospitals, and they functioned in a variety of pastoral kinds of roles that involved TLC. It was understood, after lots of communication, that they would contact the pastor as necessary, but after a while (and it did take a while) people grew to like visits from the care team almost more than pastoral ones, perhaps because “care” visits to the hospital or nursing home or to grieving family members and so on is perceived as part of a pastor’s paid job description. I’m not sure, but perhaps some of what you are asking about here is the kind of thing that (nondenominational) Stephen Ministries resources help train people for. They can be found at Stephens Ministries
I remember hearing a church staff member tell me that she would be devastated if she left and "things didn't fall apart." Yikes.
Ministry is not about us and our indispensability. In fact, good leadership means that we can step back and things don't fall apart. Remember Ephesians 4:11-13 (the only time the word "pastor" is found in NT) - our role is to equip others for ministry.
In my humble opinion, there will always be a need for professional clergy because there will always be new saints to equip. But our role is not to be the cornerstone in the Jenga tower, which causes a crash when we are pulled away. Our congregations will never reach more than about 150 - according to people who study such things - if we don't allow others to lead. This involves permission-giving after establishing healthy parameters, etc.
In terms of pastoral care, this is simply "being the church" with and for each other. It is the opposite of Biblical teaching for the pastor to be the only one who does this. And something that seems to make sense to our parishioners is this truth: the greatest moments in ministry I've experienced have been at death beds and in emergency rooms. I should not be the only one who gets to experience this intimacy with my brothers and sisters in Christ.
The tough part will be convincing your congregation of this.
From Rector in Hawai’i:
Pastoral care can be an almost completely lay function. Eucharistic visitors are one of the best inventions in the Episcopal Church. The challenge is to help parishioners see that they don't need someone with a collar to do all the visitations. Often, visiting a parishioner and taking along a Eucharistic Visitor opens the door to the visitee to be more open and comfortable to a lay pastoral caregiver. Meeting with the EVs on a monthly basis and having them report on their visits is a good way to stay on top of those who are homebound. A well-trained cadre of EVs can get to the point of writing almost-verbatims after visits and emailing them to the other EVs. That way, everyone knows the updated status of every visitee. Although the EVs' main responsibility is sharing the Eucharist, they also function as pastoral visitors when visitees don't want communion. The point is that everyone who is homebound -- short- or long-term -- continues to have an ongoing connection with the faith community. The other vehicle for pastoral care is a weekly mailing to all shut-ins that includes Sunday's service leaflet and the preacher's sermon.
One of the best things I learned from a Senior Pastor is to start a card file on every member (secretary or volunteer can do this for you) with as much information as possible --- birthdates, anniversaries, recent pastoral needs, deaths in family, children and their birth dates if living at home. Every time there is a contact - add info to the card. Date - issues -- status. This is for your reference only and kept in your hands. Pastoral visitors should have ongoing "staff meetings" and training. When they have feedback from a visit - you note it on the card.
From Razor City Rector:
I think the only way to have time for yourself is to put it on your calendar. From my perspective a solo clergy operation offers lots of flexibility. I think it works well to actually put on a calendar and let people know when you won't be available, except for crises or pastoral emergencies. I have always worked at home on Thursday mornings where it is quiet, no interruptions. I began by totally screening any calls and now no one ever calls then, unless it is dire. It is my time for study and writing. For many years, I lifted weights three times per week. I left the office for an hour or so and returned. It was on my calendar and I refused to make appointments during that time. You have to decide your priorities (and personal time, health promotion) is all part of that.
As much as one is tempted to think that the pastor is not needed at every event (something I totally agree with); a lot depends on the size of the congregation at which events you really don't have to attend. Pastoral sized churches have high expectations for the pastor to "give blessing" by their mere presence.
How about "congregational care" for a name for this ministry? Sometimes taking someone else along on a pastoral call authenticates their ministry with an individual at a later time. For example when calling on someone at the hospital, I have asked the lay person with me to offer a prayer, to read a scripture, rather than do everything myself. Then on subsequent visits, their ministry was more readily accepted.