Friday, March 18, 2011

The Worst Visit Ever

In a previous blog I mentioned the importance of lay people serving alongside their pastors in offering pastoral care to church members by making visits to members in the congregation going through times of difficulty. While this kind of teamwork is important in churches of all sizes, it is even more vital in smaller churches where the pastors may work second jobs in addition to serving their churches. In smaller churches where pastors are likely to have additional jobs, it is unlikely that those pastors will have the time to do all the pastoral care that is needed, which is why teamwork with lay people is so important.

Though I have written about this issue before, I realize that different people learn in different ways. Therefore, I thought it would be fun to give a scenario of how NOT to make pastoral care visits. Though the humorous scenario below is made up, it is based on parts of actual visits I have observed over the years. Enjoy reading it and I hope it makes the points needed.

A bird’s eye view of the worst visit ever:

Layman Making Visit: Hello, Mr. Smith, can I come in for a few minutes and talk to you?

Mr. Smith: Actually I am about to head out to watch my son play baseball. Can I call you tomorrow to set up a better time for you to come by?

Layman Making Visit: Oh, it will only take a minute; I will just come in right now and only stay a short time.

Mr. Smith: Well, actually, this really is not a good time and . . . .

Layman Making Visit: Don’t worry; I will just take a minute of your time.

Mr. Smith: Ah, okay, sure, come on in.

Layman Making Visit: You know my son used to play ball. What position does your son play?

Mr. Smith: Well, he is the right fielder and he is . . .

Layman Making Visit: Right field, that is not a very important spot. My son was the pitcher. Your boy should learn how to work harder so he can get a better spot on the team.

Mr. Smith: Ah, I think he works hard; he’s just . . .

Layman Making Visit: Oh, that’s okay. Not every boy can be a star. By the way, I played ball in school too. I was the highest scorer in the league three years running. Now, if I recall, you were not much of a sports person yourself, were you?

Mr. Smith: No, I was more into academics. You know, I really need to get going or I will be late for the game.

Layman Making Visit: I need just a few minutes of your time for some important questions I want to ask you about your spiritual condition. You do care about whether you burn in hell or not?

Mr. Smith: Well, yes, of course I do; that is why I have been coming to your church lately. It’s just that my son’s game starts in ten minutes.

Layman Making Visit: Ah, ball games, I remember when I was a kid I loved to play ball. I will have to come by and tell you all about how great I was sometime when I’m not as busy as I am today.

Mr. Smith: Yes, maybe some other time, but right now I need to get going.

Layman Making Visit: Okay, well, let me just read you some scripture. I think one or two chapters from Leviticus might help you think about what is more important in life. Let me get out my Bible and I will read those two chapters quickly.

For further reflection: How many things are wrong with this visit? What could have been done differently to make the visit more effective?

The above is an excerpt from the book, Developing Leadership Teams in the Bivocational Church, by Dr. Terry W. Dorsett. The book contains six easy to use lessons to teach lay people to work as a team with their pastor. Though the book is designed specifically for bivocational pastors, many fully funded pastors and many lay people are finding it equally helpful.


  1. How true! Where do I begin with what's wrong with that visit. :) When I was a young Christian in the Air Force, I tried a similar approach. Fortunately, I had a seasoned Christian with me who pulled me aside and gave me this advice: "Michael, perhaps you should learn how and when to talk to people about Christ, because your making it harder for us who know what we're doing."

    There is a reason that Jesus waited for some time before sending out His disciples into the world. A level of maturity and experience is important for anyone who wants to reach out. I encourage anyone who wants to learn to witness and make pastoral care visits, to go with a seasoned pro and learn from maturity.

  2. Cameron and Kelly LewisMarch 18, 2011 at 11:58 AM

    Yeah, that was a bad visit for sure!