Pastors should be prepared to minister when they step foot in a hospital room. With someone under your care in frail condition, this is no time to wing it.
Visiting someone is not just about what you do once you are in the room, it is about being prepared before you arrive.
You might feel out of place next to a hospital bed if you’re fresh out of seminary. You might feel awkward if you’re new to the church and haven’t built relationships with everyone yet.
You might feel off your game if your church’s needs are not such that you make hospital visits frequently. These situations cause us to be unprepared.
If you find yourself approaching hospital visits with fear and trepidation, consider some of these tips for being prepared to care for your people when they are sick.
1. Know their name and face.
In my previous ministry as a junior high pastor, I often met our elderly members for the first time when I visited them in the hospital. If you don’t personally know whom you are about to visit, look them up in the pictorial directory before you go.
You don’t want to depend on matching names to hospital beds. Make sure you can pronounce their name correctly.
2. Know as much info on their situation as possible.
You may not have made personal contact yet, but knowing their situation makes your visit personal from the start. It also informs what kind of demeanor you should carry into the room and what type of passage you should be ready to read (see #6).
3. Arrive early (if you have made an appointment).
Parking at a hospital and navigating the halls can take 15 minutes or more. If they are expecting you at a certain time, give yourself margin for error.
4. Utilize clergy parking.
You might have to drop a few bucks for the pass, but it will save you from worrying about #3.
5. Keep mints handy.
You are in the middle of a spicy Thai lunch meeting. Your assistant texts you that someone was rushed to the hospital. You do the math.