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2 November 2016

Caring for one another

Sally Campbell (LT pics 2016) Sally Campbell Head of Pastoral Care
hand (pastoral care)

‘Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ.’ (Galatians 6:2)

One of our four values as a church is to be an ‘authentic community’ of God’s people. As part of this, we aim to develop and encourage pastoral care within the church.

What is it?

The Bible encourages us repeatedly to love and care for one another. This can take different forms: listening, visiting, comfort, practical help, counsel, challenge, prayer, and more. It is both proactive – helping people prepare for changes or challenges – and reactive – helping people as they encounter crises or struggles.

It also requires us, however, to seek support when we need it, and to be willing to be open and honest with one another – at least with a small number of trusted people. Being vulnerable with one another is not easy, especially in our ‘I’m strong, I can cope’, individualistic society. But if we are willing to open up, as well as getting the support we need, it can give other people permission to share about their own struggles.

Depression (pastoral care)

Who does it?

At some level, we are all involved in pastoral care, and it’s great to see so much of it happening! Despite the size of Above Bar Church, people often comment on what a loving and caring church it is. A lot of care happens in smaller groups, such as home groups and missional communities, where relationships can be deeper and more authentic.

Last year, as we sought to encourage home groups as hubs of pastoral care, we assigned a Pastoral Link Person to support each home group leader in this. Of course, our ministers and elders also have a responsibility to ‘pastor the flock’ (1 Peter 5:1–3), and we have a Pastoral Care Team. The team members have a diversity of gifts and experience, and get involved in more complex or ongoing situations.

The Pastoral Care Team has recently been restructured to form three subgroups, focussing on visiting, one-to-one support, and marriage/relationships ministry.

We have recently appointed Caitlin Walsh as a temporary Pastoral Care Assistant, one day a week, to help with this broad ministry.

hands (pastoral care)

Why does it matter?

Pastoral care is not just ‘being kind’! It is part of God’s mission to the world, to bring healing, transformation, and wholeness. It is also part of what it means to be followers of Jesus. As the world sees the way we care, it points people to him (see John 13:34–35). We are all on a journey of faith, but that journey can have twists and turns, some quite unexpected. Pastoral care is about helping people through the changes and challenges of life in a way that honours God, deepens their faith in him, and helps them towards maturity in Christ.

If you would like to know more about pastoral care at Above Bar Church, please contact Sally Campbell.


Photo credits (from top):
© Jlhopgood. Used under a Creative Commons (CC-BY-ND-2.0) licence.
© Ryan Melaugh. Used under a Creative Commons (CC-BY-2.0) licence.
© Paul Taylor. Used under a Creative Commons (CC-BY-ND-2.0) licence.

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