I have been the pastoral care giver in a small church. Some of those original people are now part of our much larger church where care happens in groups. In the process, both them and I have made the transition.
As a result, here’s what I’ve come to believe about pastoral care: 98 percent of pastoral care is having someone who cares. It doesn’t have to be the pastor.
Two percent of the time you’ll have situations where the need of a member exceeds the ability of the group to help. That’s what trained Christian counselors are for. The tool kit of a trained Christian counselor is deeper and better than the counseling ability of the vast majority of pastors.
I rarely if ever counsel people. Why? Because I care about people too much. Instead, I send them to people who can actually help them.
If you’re wondering how to start the discussion, I started it with my elders and leaders when we were about 100 in attendance and told them my role would be changing. I used this book as a resource, and told them that we would never break 200 in attendance unless I stopped doing pastoral care.
It was a tough, but we made it. We now have a church of 2,300 people with almost 1,100 in attendance on weekends.
It’s tempting to say I’d be dead if I was still trying to do pastoral care personally, but that’s simply not true.
I’d be alive, very tired (it’s not my key gifting) and our church would be under 200 people. I also likely would have quit. We would never have grown. That’s the reality.
It’s simply impossible for a church to grow beyond 200 under one person’s direct care and leadership.
Too scared to have the conversation?
If you’re a people pleaser, do what you need to do to get over it. Go see a counselor. Get on your knees. Do whatever you need to do to get over the fear of disappointing people.
If you’re afraid to have the conversation, have it anyway. I actually designed my latest book, Lasting Impact, to facilitate seven critical conversations like this directly with your board and leadership team.