Every church and pastor I know wants their church to be a community that cares. The challenge is that life is messy and many other priorities get in the way. While there are many programs that a church can employ to help them care for people (Recovery, DivorceCare, GriefShare, etc) the best path to being a caring church is to create a culture of care.
Here are five ways you can do this:
1. Create a vision for whole church care
You can aim to create a care ministry or you can seek to develop a culture of care. Creating a culture in your church where every person sees themselves as an instrument of God’s grace to care for one another is the biblical approach. A care ministry has value but tends to involve a select few individuals who have a particular passion. Those people make great leaders and your most ardent advocates for creating a culture. To move your church towards every-person taking responsibility for care start by writing down a vision. It can be simple. Then share it with your church.
2. Equip others
When you start talking publicly about being a church that cares deeply for one another and the city you will start having people come to the pastors for help. That is natural. Pastors are the most visible and natural leaders and providers of care within the church. But to move towards everyone taking responsibility for the vision you have to have healthy boundaries. You also have to train your other elders, pastors, staff and small group leaders with basic care skills. Enlist them in sharing and owning the vision. Equip them to begin stepping into situations where they can provide care and counsel. They will model to the church the simplicity of taking time to care for one another.
3. Utilize resources
While equipping your leaders and members with a basic theology of gospel change and care recognize that there are situations where more specialized help is needed and available. Get to know those within your church who have more experience and particularly those who work as vocational or professional counselors. Partner with them and ask for their supplemental help in caring for one another.
4. Remember you need care yourself
No one is beyond the need for the grace and mercy of Christ. A healthy, thriving, sustainable culture of care comes from daily dependance, confession, and trust in Christ. You cannot give what you do not have. The fruit of this is a deepening love and humility. As a leader in the church practice this and model this and others will follow.
5. Get a coach
One way to develop a culture of care is to get a mentor or coach who can help you navigate the ins and outs of developing a culture of care. Remember, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. You probably already know the power of mentorship. That one leader that steps into your life at just the right moment, with just the right kind of experiences, tools and resources, to help you take the next step, get over the next hurdle, face the next challenge or solve the next problem as a leader. When it comes to developing a culture of care in your church, seek out and find a mentor or coach who can help you go further, faster.
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