A Possible Pastoral Care policy

Pastoral Care

'Our Calling' states, "The Church exists to be a good neighbour to people in need..." It asks, "How do we discover the needs in our community and respond to them? How do we develop friendly attitudes towards everyone we meet? Do we share with one another our concerns...?" And so on.

A clearly defined pastoral policy, adapted to the mission and situation of the local church, could serve to be the benchmark against which actual practice is gauged as to its effectiveness or otherwise.

Such a policy might for example:

  • Highlight issues around good practice and safety for all those involved in pastoral leadership.

  • Acknowledge changing patterns of affiliation and membership. Encourage the authentic care of, and inclusion of, those who for various reasons are on the periphery of the church.

  • Highlight the need actively to challenge prejudice and barriers with regard to: gender, age, family models, sexual orientation, race, culture, member-non-member, disabled - able bodied...

  • Challenge the way we relate to people and our motivation for doing so. Especially around the occasional offices of the church and, for example: the perception that we need more young people, why? Do we seek to enter into long-term relationships with those who approach the church at particular points in their lives? For whose benefit? Is our care disinterested in the best sense of there being no strings attached? What is our motivation for working in the community? It is obviously not wrong to want people to come to our church. Sharing with them a very precious gift, but does their response dictate the nature of our present and future involvement with them?

  • Challenge how power is used within our church?

  • Seek to alleviate ministerial guilt and unrealistic expectations by stating the corporate nature of our responsibility with regard to pastoral care.

  • Highlight the need to review timings for services, meetings and fellowship opportunities in light of the needs of our congregations e.g. work patterns, time of year...

  • State the need for our caring to be holistic in nature.

Pastoral Policy could be implemented by:

Being effective through good administration:

  • Ensuring records are accurate.

  • Putting in place pastoral care and leadership structures that reflect geographical constraints, natural affinities, relationships...

  • Ensuring procedures are in place for effective review and reappraisal.

  • Allocating resources appropriately.

  • Ensuring that all involved meet the Church's Safeguarding requirements and have the appropriate CRB clearance (see link to Chas site)

Training:

  • Implementing and developing ongoing training and teaching on pastoral care using worship, bible studies, courses, fellowship meetings, synods,

  • Inviting the help of Training and Development Officers and District Training Secretaries

Providing safe places for people to meet:

  • Reviewing the value of social events.

  • Valuing organisations such as Drama Societies, Camera clubs etc

  • Looking at our property with a view to providing rooms with at least as much physical comfort as the average front room.

  • Making use of the liturgical/school year for planning events.

  • Ensuring that the building is safe and adequately staffed with regard to 'Safeguarding' requirements.

Being a community that reflects in our liturgy and prayers the day-to-day concerns and joys of our community:

  • Use prayer request books and boards - but never in a way that breaks confidentiality.

  • Encourage people with to talk about their jobs, lives in worship and to create their own liturgies that respond to local events or concerns.

Communicating and listening effectively and appropriately.

Seeking to demystify pastoral care (Pastoral care is not the province of the professional. We are all naturally involved in caring).

Providing Connexional support:

  • Reviewing and providing materials for training.
  • Sharing instances of good practice.
  • Providing forms etc that reflect the changing nature of our local communities e.g. First Steps materials, 'All This for You' and 'Called by Name'.
  • Modelling within our own Connexional community the good practice we seek to encourage throughout the church.

Although all or most of the above is stating the obvious, by its very nature the obvious is not often stated and standards of care slide amidst all the business of community life.

People 'slip through the net' which can mean that an elderly faithful member, lives out her/his final days in miserable loneliness. That a young mother strives in quiet desperation to manage. That the bereaved have the idea that the church is just there to help manage the process of death confirmed and so on.

If we can formulate a simple but effective policies of pastoral care these could act as catalysts for review, change and the sharing of good practice.

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