We held the first meeting of a pastoral care group at Holy Trinity, which arose out of our Mission Action Plan. Two of the ‘Marks of Mission’ that we are focussing on are ‘Sharing faith by confident and sensitive evangelism: witnessing to God’s presence and power’ and ‘Lifelong Christian nurture’. The development of pastoral care belongs to both marks, we decided. We want to show God’s love and care and also to nurture ourselves and others in faith.
So where do you start? Well, we gathered a group who felt called to this kind of work and they were commissioned at the launch of our Plan. And now we are meeting together to be equipped for the work. I found a ‘workbook’ – a collection of resources – which was prepared by Anne Tomlinson for congregations developing their lay ministry, called ‘Visiting Skills’, and it is really excellent. it has different materials so that you can pick what suits your group best.
But actually, this is not the ‘resource’ I’m thinking of. The workbook has an exercise where you ponder and remember quietly a situation in which you yourself received csre. What did it feel like? What kind of care was it? What does it tell you about the nature of good pastoral care and effective carers? So, it directs you to yourself and your experience as a primary resource for the pastoral care you are offering.
We often forget how much we draw on what we have gone through, good and bad. It takes time and effort to reflect on it and learn from it. Yes, of course, it needs to be balanced by other resources to grow the ‘mind of Christ’ in us (e.g., as the workbook suggests, looking at Jesus’ own ‘pastoral conversations’ in the Gospels). But our own hearts and memories are a good starting point.
The other good thing about this reflective approach is that it helps the pastoral carer to become more self aware, and to avoid the pitfalls of bringing your own baggage and concerns into another’s situation. So next week, it’s role play about exactly that danger!