By Larry George
I remember when my dad lived in a skilled nursing facility. The drive for my family was 20 miles one way. But on Thursdays our pastor would visit Dad and go teach him his Sunday school lesson. Pastor would spend about an hour with Dad and leave his card with a note letting us know he had been there. What a wonderful day Thursday became for us! To be able to stay home and know dad was enjoying himself with our pastor and that he wasn’t alone.
And now, as an Associate Pastor for Moore’s Chapel Baptist Church, that gift has come full circle because it’s my responsibility to visit people in our congregation who need the company and care of a compassionate friend.
My wife Joyce and I recently received a copy of the print edition of 122+ Ways to Care Well. We sat on our back porch eating cookies Joyce had just taken out of the oven and we read the book to each other.
After we read the book, we started to brainstorm ways to use the ideas within and the first thing we decided was: instead of saying that we’re going out to visit the sick, lonely, and elderly, we are going to say we are part of a “Care Well Team.”
Here’s what’s great about thinking of ourselves as a Care Well Team: it means we can care for anyone, at any time. We aren’t setting a limit to focusing on just one type of group, whether it is children, hospital visits, the elderly. Instead, they are all part of those you visit. The definition of “team” is “come together to achieve a common goal.” And, caring well means more than just visiting; it means to be involved on a personal level with each individual.
Here are three ideas that anyone (not just pastors) can use to reach out to those who would appreciate a visit and someone to talk to.
Bring a Treat to Share
I know of a pastor and his wife that as a Care Well Team brings three individually wrapped pieces of cake to those they visit. If there is a special occasion, they will also include a small handful of cut flowers. (You can get inexpensive vases at the dollar store or at yard sales.) And then here’s the important part: join them for the treat. No one wants to eat alone. While eating, share with them about next month’s visit. You could also bring cookies if that’s more to your liking.
Make a Themed Hat
Perhaps the person you’re visiting has a creative side and would enjoy a bit of an activity? You could do “Crazy Hat Day”—where your Care Well Team plans a theme and you each make a hat with the person you are visiting and take pictures for them to keep and remember to share.
Then tell them about next month’s visit.
Offer Something from the “Mystery Basket”
Who doesn’t love a small surprise gift?
If you have the means to do so, make up a basket with small, inexpensive items such as:
- Nail polish
- Sample-sized hand cream or bath gel
- Flameless candle
- A small notebook and pen
- Lip balm
- Trail mix
- Breath mints
- Sports magazine
- Sugar free hard candy
- Magnetized notepad with funny or inspirational sayings
And to make it even more fun, you could wrap each gift and turn it into a “Mystery Basket.” Depending on your situation, you could do this one time, or every time you visit.
As a pastor part of my job is to care for those who are in need. But as Karen Mulder reminds us, God calls all of us to care for our suffering neighbor. And I’m so grateful she offers ideas in a practical book titled, 122+ Ways to Care Well.
Are you a member of a congregational care team? Or a pastor who’d like more ideas for how to care for your church members? Complete this order form to receive a free printed version of 122+ Ways to Care Well.
About the Author: Larry George is an Associate Pastor of Moore’s Chapel Baptist Church, Graham, NC. He and his wife Joyce enjoy ministering to others as a team and can often be found working with troubled families and visiting people in the hospital and stay at home seniors. In 1992, Larry and his wife, Joyce, founded Siloam Missionary Homes which provides a place for missionaries to refresh and renew.