Pastors and laity universally want their church to be a caring, loving church. The sacrificial love of Christ is at the heart of the church’s identity. This desire to be like Christ and to be a loving congregation is a beautiful thing. Caring, loving congregations constantly ask the question “How can we more fully deliver the love of Christ with one another and with the people in our mission field?”
We learn how to love by being loved. We can become more loving by studying the habits of love that were first demonstrated by Christ and which have raised generations of loving Christians through the centuries. When a congregation has a plan for studying and implementing those habits of love, it becomes a more caring congregation. It also become healthier, more holy, and more joyful. For churches that desire to more effectively reach new people to help them find their way to Christ and the church, establishing a congregational care ministry often frees pastors and leaders to extend the love and care of the church to people in the mission field.
For smaller churches, we encourage you not to over-reach. The easiest way to establish a congregational care ministry is to invite a trusted lay person or two from the church to accompany you on some of your hospital, shut-in and supportive care visits. You can use an apprentice model to help them learn how to provide care not just as a friend but also as a representative of the church.
Many churches are using training materials from the Rev. Karen Lampe of the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection. COR offers a training workshop on a regular basis for church leaders wanting to help their congregation build a congregational care ministry. (download link for a workshop outline) Even though COR is a mega-church, the resources they have provided are helpful and effective for building care teams for churches of any size or locale. The book and training manual that Rev. Lampe has provided are great guides for building a team in your church.
When a Congregational Care Ministry is active in a church, members of the congregation and people in the mission field experience the love of Christ in a deeper and more beautiful way. Here are some testimonies from persons who received care from a congregational care team.