Forming together, the new tag line introduced when CBF re-branded this year, is a reminder that we are all forming in Christ together. Whether we are supporting congregations, equipping ministers and lay leaders, nurturing young Baptists or cultivating partnerships and encouraging advocacy, the family of CBF is forming together.
One way we can do this is by sharing our resources with one another. Our network is blessed with people who share their gifts with their congregations and communities each week. We think it is important to highlight those resources and create spaces to share them.
ChurchWorks: Congregational Resources will become a regular part of the CBFblog and it will provide a virtual space for Fellowship Baptists to discover new resources and to learn from one another. The ongoing series will include blogs written by CBF clergy and laity, young and old, student and established leader, partners and beyond. These pieces will center around a variety of topics and they will include resources that we hope you will be able to incorporate into your ministries.
Some of our topics and writers include:
Ministry Networks written by Carol Harston, President-elect of the CBF Youth Ministers Network
Pastoral Care Week Emphasis written by Gerry Hutchinson, CBF Endorser for Chaplains and Pastoral Counselors
Youth Ministry by Marnie Fisher-Ingram, Passport Camps
Racial Reconciliation by Alyssa Aldape, CBF Next Generation Mission Assistant
Young Baptists by Michelle Ballard, CBF Young Baptist Ecosystem Intern
CBF Global Missions Resources by Ryan Clark, CBF Global Missions Church Engagement Manager
CBF wants this featured part of the CBFblog to be a useful resource for you and your congregation. The resources that will be curated and shared here are offered so that we can continue forming together. If you have content you want to share or topics you would like to see resourced, please contact Meagan Smith. CBF asks that you give the authors of these future blogs credit for their work, where appropriate, when using these resources in your context.
Our first piece is found below.
We hope that this can be a helpful tool for you and your ministry,
CBF Missional Congregations Services Manager
Pastoral Care in a Congregational Context
By Gerry Hutchinson
The term “practicing law” is often used to describe what attorneys do. I think the phrase “practicing ministry” can be employed to describe what we do as ministers. I don’t want to imply that it is “practice” in the sense of experimenting with people. Instead, I would suggest that we, hopefully, are continually learning, reflecting upon and honing our knowledge, skills and abilities in the practice of ministry.
A few observations about the practice of pastoral care in a congregation setting:
Less can be more
Betsy Young, a current student at McAfee School of Theology participated in a Unit of CPE this summer. Part of her clinical work was in a church setting. A parishioner called to make an appointment to see her. In anticipation of their meeting she pondered how she might approach the counseling session. When she met the individual, the person poured out all that was on their mind and heart. Betsy listened intently but had no opportunity to get a word in edgewise to provide counsel. At the conclusion of their time together the church member was most appreciative of her ministry. Betsy was surprised since she offered scant words of advice.
A few years ago in a congregation I served, I remember vividly the ministry lesson provided by one of our deacons. When a fellow church member was dying of cancer, the deacon would go each week and sit by the bedside of his friend for an hour or so. No words were exchanged; he simply sat with his friend. At the funeral the wife expressed her profound gratitude for the care he provided during those weekly visits.
The point here is not to diminish the value of wise counsel in pastoral care. But only to emphasize that there are occasions when listening carefully and attentively is therapeutic and that one’s caring presence can be affirming. Sometimes less is more.
A Personal Touch
Dr. J. Truett Gannon served as Pastor of Smoke Rise Baptist Church in Stone Mountain, GA, for 21 years. From the beginning of his ministry he carefully recorded the names and dates of all couples he married. Each year before the couple’s anniversary he wrote a personal note to them. Even as the number of couples he married increased exponentially over the course of his pastorate, he continued to pen a hand written note of encouragement and celebration. Granted he lost track of a few of those who moved away. And yes, some of the marriages ended in divorce. But those annual hand written notes were cherished by the couples.
Finding ways to extend a personal touch is a thoughtful expression of pastoral care. Whether it is the occasion of recognizing someone’s wedding anniversary or expressing care and concern to a church member at a point of need.
“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” Leo Buscaglia.
Neglect not those in the dawn of life and those in the twilight of life
There is great joy in engaging in ministry with children. Take every opportunity you can to be with the children of your congregation: visiting in their bible classes, showing up at VBS, and going to their events. I found that usually the children’s message (and their comments) was listened to as attentively by the adults as it was by the children. Children are eager to engage and they will often teach you and the congregation if you let them. Be intentional to provide pastoral care for the children of your parish.
Second, stay connected with the older members of your congregation-especially the home bound. No group will appreciate a visit more that the shut ins and those residing in a nursing home. I have learned much from the resiliency and the life stories of seniors. Visiting in their homes to get to know them better and/or to offer the Lord’s Supper can be priceless times of fellowship for both minister and parishioner.
Gerry Hutchinson is the Endorser for Chaplains and Pastoral Counselors for CBF. Gerry retired from the U.S. Navy in 2014 after serving 26 years as a chaplain. He also served as church staff minister with both Culpeper Baptist Church and Druid Hills Baptist Church.
- Transforming Resources offers a Lectionary-based Advent Reflection Booklet. Purchase an individual copy for $9 and receive a coupon code for $9 to use when you buy a 50 or 100 Pack before Oct 23.
- A compilation of essays about John Rowan Claypool IV, well known and much loved minister, preacher, theologian, author, and teacher, has been published by Saint Luke’s Episcopal Church and Carolyn Sloss Ratliff in Birmingham. The book, entitled Life Is Gift: Remembrances of John Rowan Claypool IV, includes ninety-nine stories written by Baptist preachers and Episcopal priests from around the country, as well as church members, family, and friends. Visit The Saint Luke’s website to learn more and purchase this collection of essays.
- Oasis is an event designed by the CBF Youth Ministry Network to address the spiritual health of our CBF youth ministers. Oasis is not an education event, but it is professional development – we minister more effectively when we are in good spiritual health. Register here!
- The Baptist History and Heritage Society is accepting paper proposals for the 2016 Conference on the theme “Perspectives in Baptist History and Identity.” The Society welcomes individual paper proposals for this upcoming conference. Proposals should reflect the conference theme and be 500 words or less in length. Society members and non-members alike may submit proposals.Learn more here.
- “Proclaimers of God’s Word: Voices of the New Generation” is the theme of an upcoming luncheon hosted by McAfee School of Theology and Day 1. The luncheon will be hosted at Second-Ponce de Leon Baptist Church on Friday, November 6th. Tickets are $25. Learn more and register here.
“Scarred by Struggle, Transformed by Hope” by Joan Chittister.
“Basic Types of Pastoral Care & Counseling” Howard Clinebell and Bridget Claire McKeever.
“The Practice of Pastoral Care: A Post Modern Approach” by Carrie Doehring.
“Listening & Caring Skills: A Guide for Groups & Leaders” by John Savage.