Many churches do a great job of pastoral care. They are quick to respond to urgent hospital visits, family emergencies, crisis of faith or even just a friendly welcome to church. Where I have seen churches failing is with internal communication around pastoral care. Some issues are confidential and need to stay between the pastor and the congregant. But other issues need to be shared in an intentional way. When someone is sick and in the hospital the congregant expects the church staff to know what is going on. Not just the pastor that did the hospital visitation but other people on staff they interact with on a regular basis. Often this is done with quick hallway discussions around the church. “Hey… before I forget… I wanted to let you know that Mary is recovering well from her surgery… She is expected to be released on…” This hap hazard way of communicating works until it doesn’t.
Churches need to be more intentional with pastoral care. It needs to be a part of the weekly staff meeting. In F1 you can run the 4010 report and include pertinent information regarding what has happened with your flock in the last 7 days. The church should be very clear about what is going on with the congregation. Who is in the hospital, who has died in the last week, who is going on an extended vacation and needs to be taken out of the volunteering schedule. The conversation should be driven from the report that should contain all pastoral care issues that have happened since the last staff meeting. This should also include any and all prayer request that have been submitted so the staff can be praying for people that need prayer.
Most importantly, you should be able to say with confidence “If it isn’t in F1 it didn’t happen” so that the staff knows to properly document pastoral care issues. If it isn’t documented it won’t show up in the report. If it isn’t in the report it can’t be reviewed and made sure that follow up happened. If you don’t review it in a staff meeting it will not magically appear when you need that information on Sunday morning when Mary walks into the church and you greet her without asking how she is recovering from her surgery.