January 17, 2019 • Gary Wyatt
I heard a saying years ago that I try to always remember: “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” When it comes to successful pastoring this is a must. One way to help in ministry is with effective hospital visitation, which some think is becoming a lost art. I know a host of ministers who excel at hospital ministry, but sadly I know some who do not do it at all. Let me challenge you here to keep up the good work and for those who do not do it, please get on board.
I began pastoring in 1986 and for a number of years I have to admit I hated making hospital visits. There were a number of reasons for this feeling. One, I didn’t think I was good at it. I never knew what to say. Second, I frankly don’t like hospitals, so why would I enjoy going? But over the years I began to understand just how important this ministry is, so let me take a few minutes to share from my experience.
- Keep your visit short. Normally 10 minutes is more than enough. Of course be sensitive, and if more time is needed certainly take it.
- Be sensitive to their situation and ask questions accordingly. Don’t be afraid to ask personal questions about their condition, but don’t get too personal.
- Only share the particulars of their condition with others (especially on social media) if they give permission.
- Never get in the way of medical staff. Leave the room during exams and at other times.
- Watch for clues from the patient that you need to leave.
- If you are sick of course do not visit, make a phone call instead.
- Spend time with other family members, they may need you as well.
- Pray before you depart. (I have forgotten this)
An effective hospital visitation ministry will always have a positive effect on the total ministry in your church. Not only will the family of the patient appreciate it, other church members will have a clear understanding that you love them. Then your preaching will have a much more positive influence on them.
After my experience I can say that I Love Hospital visitation! This may not happen to you, but I am certain it can have a positive impact on your ministry.