By Anthony Mullins, US Regional Director, Southeast
I was running late, of my own doing, which increased the anxiety I was feeling about the sermon I was about to preach. My sermon preparation wasn’t up to usual standards and the message was going to be broadcast live to the Facebook world (at least those brave and daring souls who were interested in listening). No time to be interrupted, for sure, and yet that is exactly what happened. Two minutes prior to pushing the “live” button, there was a knock at the church door. No! Honestly, every instinct within me wanted to ignore the request for entry. Didn’t they know our church wasn’t currently meeting for in-person worship services due to COVID-19?
In spite of my selfish impulse, I went to the door and saw two of our church members. Without going into the detail of the encounter, it was clear one of them was in distress. We chatted for a brief moment and I invited them to be my “live audience” for the virtual sermon. Though I was initially frustrated by the interruption, they were most grateful to be included, and I ended up thankful to the Lord for this member-care opportunity. Upon the conclusion of the sermon, I heard the reason and story of distress and the three of us prayed together, cried together and celebrated that we had the amazing privilege of sharing life together.
Caring well for church members is a vital ministry in the life of a healthy church. As illustrated in the aforementioned recent experience, sometimes as a pastor my first reaction isn’t the best, …at least not at first. I need help from others.
A Team-Based and Pastor-Led approach to ministry invites me as a pastor to consider how to include my church members in all facets of church life, including Member Care. As a pastor, I cannot do it all and should not do it all. Paul, the apostle, wrote the following, “equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12). With intentional recruitment and development, my local church has been blessed to have a retired pastor and spouse as our Member Care Team for the past few years.
I commissioned them as ministry leaders in the presence of the congregation and invited them to provide Christ-like care to our members. What an outstanding work of love they have done! They have visited our people in hospitals, brought meals to members who have lost loved ones, prayed with those who are hurting and celebrated birthdays and anniversaries for those experiencing personal milestones. I participate when I am able, as the introductory story shared, but the bigger blessing is having a team of volunteers who serve on the Member Care Team and who love one another so well.