The phone call at 2am that a church member is in critical condition in the hospital. The impending surgery date scheduled for the last 4 months that’s just days away. The senior saint languishing in a deteriorating state for years in a long-term care facility. These are not unfamiliar scenarios to any ministry leader. Our desire is to do right by our people in times of personal crisis, and most of the time we are readily available to minister to our hurting and grieving families in their moments of deepest need.
But what about when the uproar subsides? What does our ministry to those families look like days, weeks, months, or even years after the life-changing event takes place? While life returns to normalcy for most everyone else, and ministry responsibilities continue for us as leaders, many of our church members are facing the overwhelming reality that life will never be the same.
As Paul begins his second letter to the Corinthian church, we can glean three benefits of having a purposeful, consistent and compassionate visitation ministry.
Benefit #1 – Increased Opportunities to Comfort
Verses 3 and 4 of chapter one emphasizes the great comfort we receive from our Heavenly Father during our difficulties. Since we’ve been recipients of that divine comfort, there is a natural expectation we can comfort those who are experiencing trouble as well. The comforting presence of another believer is a powerful and highly effective physical manifestation of how God comforts His children. A purposeful, consistent and compassionate visitation ministry puts your people in a position to comfort hurting people.
Benefit #2 – Increased Opportunities to Evangelize
As Paul continues his thoughts, we see that even amid his troubles he’s encouraged and emboldened to share his true hope, his salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul recognizes there is something much greater beyond the suffering he’s enduring, which brings him comfort and purpose during the struggle. Often, we visit believers who are going through serious health challenges, or who are close to passing, and miss the fact that there are family members, caregivers, medical staff, and countless other onlookers hearing and seeing the hope available to them if they would put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ. A purposeful, consistent and compassionate visitation ministry puts your people in a position to evangelize the lost.
Benefit #3 – Increased Opportunities to Meet Needs
Paul mentions two specific ways he and Timothy were encouraged by others during their difficulties; 1) prayer and 2) gifts given. People rallied around them and did something tangible to help meet their needs. When we take the time to go to the hurting and put eyes on their situation, it gives our heart opportunity to respond to the needs we see. It also allows us to enlist others to minister to those needs, trusting God has resources available through other believers in our church family. A purposeful, consistent and compassionate visitation ministry puts your people in a position to meet others’ needs.
As ministry leaders, we have the incredible privilege and the weighty responsibility of leading our people to be others-centered, one-anothering Jesus followers. Hurting people need to know they are valued outside the church walls, and the people connected to them need to see Christ’s love in action. Implementing and promoting a purposeful, consistent and compassionate health concerns visitation ministry puts your church in a position to accomplish these goals.