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4. Caring for Congregational Members

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Ministering to people is not just providing them information about God. Caring for God's flock requires being present with people in their daily lives.

This section summarizes some of the principles from Chapter 14 “Caring for the body of Christ” (Built on the Rock, pages 250-264). 


Providing Spiritual Care for Members


         This requires three main components (hover over each):

Personal Contact

There is just no substitute for personal contact for expressing care.

A phone call is a distant second and email should be avoided except to set up a visit.

Sharing Scripture

For some of your visits, this may be the only encounter they have with God's Word in a very long time! For others it is refreshing and encouraging for them. Don't miss this opportunity.


Praying offers hope! Many lay leaders are initially uncomfortable praying with others at first. But it gets easier with practice, we promise!

We will now review how important personal visits are to providing spiritual care. During a personal visit, your main purpose is to apply these three components: personal contact, sharing scripture and praying. One way you will do this is through sharing a family devotion. We'll discuss this in detail in the next lesson.

Making Personal Visits on Your Members

Working under the direction of the pastor and the board of elders, make calls on all the members of your congregation or school families. Note that you should develop a practice of making calls on everyone, not just those who are inactive.

Consider beginning as follows. Check each box to reveal answers.

Begin with regularly scheduled visits to active members.

Of course, visit those who are in the hospital, recovery or nursing facilities, and those who are homebound.

As you make your visits, incorporate visits to members who have become inactive.

Divide Membership Households into Different Zones or Categories

Assign one lay leader responsible for each zone or category. Develop a pattern of making calls without a special need such as illness, bereavement, lack of worship attendance, or stewardship campaign.

Structuring this way offers several benefits. Check each box to reveal answers.

Assigning households to specific lay leaders helps assure that everyone will be included in receiving care. Be sure to add new members to zones.

This process develops a practice in which both the visitor and the visited become more comfortable over time.

It also develops a relationship that will make visiting about special needs more normal and expected.

Making the Appointment

There is nothing mysterious about making these appointments​, but it will take time and care to do this well. It is important to set expectations ahead of time to ensure everyone is ready for a visit. People are often busy so be patient as you make these arrangements.

We have a few tips for you when you set your appointments.. Check each box to reveal them.

You may introduce yourself by letter, email, or card.

Normal calls should be kept short.

  • Inform the person you are visiting that you only expect to stay about 20-30 minutes.

  • You can schedule 2-3 such calls in an evening.

  • If something serious comes up, stay longer and call to reschedule later appointments.

Follow-up with phone call or email.

For encouragement, have all the lay leaders meet together one evening a month to make phone call appointments for the entire month. Sunday evenings often work well because most people are home.

When meeting in person is difficult, conduct your visit by phone.

Consider Making Some Visits in Pairs

There are several benefits for doing so. Check each box to reveal them.

Make your first couple of visits with the pastor or another experienced visitor for training and encouragement.

Make a practice of visiting in pairs. For example:

  • With another lay leader (especially where you are uncomfortable with visits).

  • With your spouse.

Particularly important to avoid meeting one-on-one alone with a person from the opposite gender.

Outline of a Visit

As noted above, a normal visit should be kept short. Use this simple outline for your visit:

(check each box to reveal each part of the visit)

Tell the person what you plan to do in this visit.

Share a devotion (10 minutes maximum if in person; shorter if by phone).

  • Involve different members of the household by inviting them to read the Scripture passage, meditation, or closing prayer (as they are able).

  • Leading a home devotion teaches your members how to conduct family devotions.

Ask if the member has any questions or concerns about the church or their personal faith life.

  • You may need to follow-up with the pastor or someone else.

  • If a pastoral care need arises, ask permission to share with the pastor or another leader (remember to hold confidences).

Optionally, briefly share about a new or existing ministry opportunity in the church.

Ask how you can pray for the member and if you can share a prayer request with your spiritual care group.

Close in prayer.

Specials Needs and Concerns

When someone from the church visits members, they may share a grievance or ask questions about something that concerns them. These interactions are opportunities for ministry!


Consider the following guidelines when these opportunities arise:

Sometimes people want to share hurts or concerns and simply have someone listen. If this is the case, patiently listen. Resist engaging in a conversation that will lead you both to talk sinfully about others not present.

Ask if they would like help in addressing their concern. If yes…

Provide biblical counsel on what they should do next.

If they ask you to intervene, decline unless biblically appropriate for you to do so. Instead, offer biblical guidance on what they can do next.

If they have a need for pastoral care, ask their permission to share the need with your Pastor.

Offer special resources:

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Whether or not they would like help, include a petition in your closing prayer with them

Praying for Specific Members during Board Meetings

A significant aspect of providing spiritual care for members is to pray for them, not only in their presence, but also in your board meetings. These guides have proven helpful:

Identify those with prayer needs or praises (you will know this from your visits). Be careful to guard confidences.

Each board member prays for those under his/her assigned care.

After praying in a meeting, send a card to those you prayed for.

Use a simple card with a blank inside.

The person who prayed can write a short note (e.g., “Mary, we prayed for you today”).

Pass around the cards so that all the board leaders present can sign their name. Then mail the cards.

Those receiving the cards appreciate knowing that their spiritual care leaders took time to pray for them in their meeting.

Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.

James 5:13-16

Finish this section by taking this quiz

Spiritual Care requires what three components? (check 3 boxes)

Spiritual care involves:

Not quite. Keep trying!


Your visits should focus first on inactive members. (True or False)

Not quite. Keep trying!


One benefit of assigning each lay leader to a group of households is that both visitor and visited become more comfortable. (True or False)

Not quite. Keep trying!


Check Progress/Finish


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