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To be effective, pastors must minister in a variety of settings. Each setting--whether hospital room, jail, nursing home, funeral home, or even in the pastor's study--is different. Each setting brings its own unique dilemmas and rules. The pastor's authority will vary according to the setting as will the expectations of the pastor by the staff and parishioners in each setting. The pastor must be comfortable in a variety of settings in order to build Christ-centered relationships, but comfort comes only with familiarity and some settings can be intimidating or even frightening. Bailing a parishioner out of jail in the middle of the night presents challenges to ministry as does helping parishioners plan their loved one's funeral after a suicide. Context matters, and Urias Beverly gives the reader concrete steps and illustrations on how to artfully minister in a variety of common settings as well as how to cope with the dilemmas pastors face in facilitating ministry in these settings.
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About the Author
Read an Excerpt
The Places You Go
Caring for Your Congregation Monday Through Saturday
By Urias Beverly
Abingdon PressCopyright © 2003 Abingdon Press
All rights reserved.
Pastors must minister in a variety of settings. Each setting, whether it is a hospital room, jail, nursing home, funeral home, parishioner's home, or pastor's study, is different. Each setting brings its own unique dilemmas and rules. Even the pastor's authority will vary according to the setting, as will the expectations of the pastor and those to whom he or she is called minister. But in all settings at all times, good pastoring requires being in relationship. While many pastors and some traditions hold that the most important gift and skill for a pastor is preaching, I, as a preacher reared in a strong preaching tradition, suggest that a sermon is only as effective as it is relational. That is, a sermon can only be effective if it is communicated, and communication comes about only when people are in a relationship.
I have personally known a number of pastors several years ago for which preaching was not their strongest gift, to put it kindly. I wondered how they could be so effective in their pastoral ministry, especially in traditions where preaching is held in high regard. I have come to learn that the secret of their success was the fact that they had solid, Christ-centered relationships with their people. Over the years they established such good relationships that the congregants tolerated their preaching shortcomings and loved them anyway. Whatever the pastor says or does, it is all about relationship, whether we are talking about relationship with God, relationship with believers within the church, or relationship with the world. But the parameters of the relationship are often defined by the setting.
I grew up in a home where affection was not demonstrated very often (I remember my mother hugging me only once in my life). My father was a pastor and ours was a very strict home. I accepted Christ at age five; I had to do it three more times before they took me seriously enough to baptize me. Shortly thereafter, when I requested the opportunity to preach, I was taken seriously at first and a time was set for me to do it. I had been preaching in the backyard for two years already, and a community delegation had come to my house asking my parents to stop me from preaching. My parents never said a word about it to me until I was ordained at twenty-four.
Like my father, I was very conservative and judgmental as I preached around the state of Indiana as a boy. By the time I was fourteen, I realized that I was not going to save the whole world as a preacher. I was already counseling with teens and parents about relationship issues, and I wanted to become a psychologist. After completing a bachelor's degree in psychology, I began studying counseling in graduate school. It was then that I became aware that psychologists often observed clients from a distance, at least in comparison to pastoral counseling. So when I entered seminary the next year, I set my major in pastoral care and counseling.
My first big lesson in counseling was to be aware of my feelings and the role feelings played in people's lives. I did not know that I had feelings for the most part; I thought when I stuffed them away they left. My next great learning was the value and the power of relationship. After six years of training in pastoral care and counseling and a lot of experience, I acquired three national certifications as chaplain, counselor, and educator of chaplains clinical pastoral education, CPE supervisor), and received a license as a marriage and family therapist and social worker. have worked in the field for more than twenty-five years and attended and led seminars and workshops nationally and internationally. I have enjoyed traveling extensively and providing leadership as president of the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE), the association that certified me to pastoral care. I have published several articles in the field have mentored several doctoral students in pastoral care.
I now direct a doctorate of ministry program at an up-and-coming seminary in Detroit and pastor a church northwest of Detroit. Although I have retired from fulltime pastoral care and supervision, I still supervise CPE students and see a few clients for counseling. During my entire institutional ministry I have always remained very involved in the parish, either as pastor or assistant I have mentored many parish pastors and counseled many and their spouses. I enjoy retreat ministry and have had memorable experiences as I continue to do that ministry. In of the different ministries I do and have done, I find that the necessity is relationship. People need relationship, especially these days when phone conversations have been replaced email; cell phones keep us from meeting new people as we because we continue to talk to ones we already know; and electronic technology allows students to study at a distance, so relationships that use to be established in the classroom do not happen. We need relationship; without it there is no trust. These is no container or structure to talk about all the feelings we to talk about.
One of my mentors shared with me what his mentor shared him: "The only responsibility of the therapist is to show up the appointed place and the appointed time and collect the I shuddered when I first heard that. How cold can you be to up and collect the fee? After years of reflection and experience I know what he was saying: people need someone they can trust to be there for them when they say they will be. Life is so uncertain and people are so disappointing that to be there where and when you agreed to be there is worth the fee if nothing else happens. When the minister keeps the appointment it says everything that needs to be said about the relationship. It is integrity, which is the most basic aspect of any relationship. All else that may be achieved is icing on the cake.
Recently, one of my clinical pastoral education (CPE) students, who is and has been a sensitive and caring pastor for years, reported, "Before CPE I just helped people any way I could; if a relationship happened, good, if not, well I just did the best I could. But now, since I know the value of intentionally building pastoral relationships and have learned some skills in how to develop these relationships in different settings, my ministry has improved by leaps and bounds." Too many pastors simply assume relationship just happens and that the setting is of no consequence.
Nothing could be further from the truth. If pastoral skills are tools that are used to give support and guidance to someone needing help, relationship is the box in which the tools are carried and the setting is like the worktable. If technique is the gasoline that powers, then the setting is the engine, and relationship the oil that allows the parts to move smoothly to facilitate healing. If verbal and nonverbal communications are the ingredients, the setting is the pastoral-sustaining bread, and relationship the yeast that makes it rise, making it light and delicious.
In this book we will look at the pastor in several different settings of his or her ministry, including the parishioner's home, hospitals, nursing homes, funeral homes, the pastor's office, and the jail. In each case the necessity and value of relationship will be lifted up with suggestions on how to develop and sustain pastoral relationships in these settings.
Each chapter will discuss how the pastor establishes rapport in particular setting, the pastor's role and authority that may be unique to the setting, as well as appropriate rituals, etiquette, dilemmas in that setting, and then resources pastors can call upon.
We will begin by reflecting on the concept of pastor because real relationship does not happen unless we know who we are. Relationship is about connectedness, one person being connected to another person in a way that allows both persons to trust, warmth, challenge, peace, pain, and hope between We understand connectedness in terms of a part to a mechanical or electrical device; if we install the wrong part we be in for a lot of trouble. In electronics, the wrong part cause the device not to work at all; however, sometimes we use a transformer to connect two different kinds of parts. In medicine, especially in blood transfusion or transplantation, an inadequate connector can be fatal. So it is with ministry: the better we know ourselves, the better we can connect to others. Sometimes knowing ourselves lets us know immediately that we cannot connect with certain people in a positive way.
What we come to know and accept about ourselves is summed in what we call identity. As ministers, we have several identities: personal, professional, public, and private; and these often depending on which type of ministry we may be doing at the Each of these faces and hats we wear has characteristics and boundaries that are general in nature, but specific to each person. Our identity varies according to our personality, childhood environment, education and training, life experience, and spiritual development. Our identity is like a part with a number on it. Although we like to think that we are "one size that fits all," in reality, in some cases we are a perfect fit and in others we are a disaster. The better we know our strengths and weakness, what us and what turns us on, what we have and what we long and what symptoms indicate when we have had enough, the better we will connect to others and help them get to know accept themselves. In short, the better ministry we will be to do.
There is another side to the pastors' identity other than the they see themselves. It is the way they are seen by others. is especially true of parish pastors because their relationships long-term, they represent a long tradition, and they are highly respected by many people. Parish pastors, for all of their images of strength and being above the fray, are not as free as they may seem. They are accountable to God on the one hand and to the congregation on the other. If pastors wonder which of these identities is of greater importance, how they see themselves or how are seen by others, I would have to say, "When a pastor is ministering to a someone, that person's perception, right or is the only reality there is at that time. We are all limited to our reality and perception. The difference is that a wise pastor that and tries to compensate for it. Others simply believe perception is the only way to see the issue."
I once counseled a couple who was struggling with their differences in values. The man was very intelligent and had a scientific His wife was also intelligent, but much more people oriented. Whenever they would fight he would explain his position and over again, believing that she did not understand his of view. One day they were fighting in my office, and he saying, "You just don't understand." He tried one more time explain his position. When he was finished I asked her if she what he had said. She repeated it back to me. I asked her she understood the point he was making. She explained his I asked her if she agreed with his point of view. She replied, "No!" I then said to him, "She does understand your point, she happens to disagree." He was totally baffled. How could she disagree with his brilliant idea!
Regardless as to how pastors see themselves, parishioners may agree and that can be a difficult thing to overcome in a relationship. Pastors must always be thoughtful of how well they are faithful to their calling by God, since God is the one to they are ultimately accountable. Their role, which God assigned, is to give comfort, guidance, and healing. Their concern is to satisfy their own sense of value and integrity. They must be aware of how they are seen and experienced those they serve. It is like a juggling act to keep all of these thihgs in constant balance. If they are not kept in balance, however, it can limit the effects of ministry and do harm to the parishioner, the pastor, and even the denomination.
After discussing the meaning of a pastoral relationship and the theology of the pastor's role in relationship to God and community, we will describe a good pastoral relationship and how it can be established generally. Each chapter thereafter will focus on relationships in more specific settings and situations.
Concept of Pastor
The word pastor comes from the Greek word poimen, meaning shepherd—one who tends herds or flocks (not merely one who them). "The word shepherd is used metaphorically of biblical passages such as in John 10. Ephesians 4:11 makes the point pastors are appointed by Christ. Acts 20:28 calls pastors overseers and suggests that their responsibility is to keep watch themselves and the flock of the Holy Spirit ... be shepherds the church of God. First Peter 5:2 calls for the pastor to be a shepherd of God's flock in your care serving as an overseer." First 2:25 depicts the shepherd as the overseer of our souls. Although the metaphor of sheep and shepherd is used extensively in Scripture, it points to intimacy in relationship, as well mutuality (John 10), defender and advocate (Ezra 3–4), and (1 Sam. 17:34, 35). Today, pastors need those same relational characteristics: intimacy, mutuality, advocacy, and leadership, but, above all, pastors need to appreciate what it means to and understand in relationship.
Knowing and Understanding in Relationship
Knowing and understanding in relationship is also to be know and understood. Parker Palmer says it is not enough for beings to know each other as isolated observers; they also know each other in the context of relationship and the act relating. He writes, "The relationships of the self require not sensory evidence of the other, not only logical linkages of and effect; they also require inner understanding of the which comes from empathy; a sense of the other's value, which comes from love; a feel for its origins and ends, which comes from faith; and a respect for its integrity and selfhood, comes from respecting our own."
Effective pastors must first have a good grasp of their own identity—their gifts and limitations; they must also be clear about call to ministry and thereby to whom they are accountable from where their help comes. Second, they must realize and appreciate the vulnerability of the person who comes to them for and the sanctity of the pastoral relationship with one of children. It is a good thing when pastors realize that they vulnerable too. One of the characteristics of relationship is vulnerability. Vulnerable does not mean weak, it means being to the possibilities of the present moment; being open to warmth, intimacy, and the moving of the Holy Spirit.
We must know in relationship through our capacities of empathy, intuition, compassion, and faith. Parker says, "When we the whole self to know in relationship, we come into a community of mutual knowing in which we will be transformed as we transform." The effective pastor does not hide behind or her role as a pastor, God's representative, the one who has together, or the strong one lending a helping hand to the The successful pastor is willing to risk giving himself or away in relationship, so that he or she can be known as as he or she knows and so that he or she can be transformed he or she is transforming the other. This certainly does not that the pastor should dump his or her stuff on the parishioner or share all of his or her shortcomings, but it does mean that pastor should not try to convey that he or she has all of the to life's situations. There are limitations to how intimate pastor can be with some parishioners. Some people are not intimate with anybody, including their own spouses and children; can they be expected to be intimate with a pastor? They may have been wounded by someone and may be afraid of intimacy. is why the pastor must be aware of how he or she is experienced by the parishioner.
There was a man who attended college with me. We may have graduated the same year; I am not sure. In college he called me Urias, as did everybody else, and I called him Bill. Later, I became assistant pastor to the church where he was a member with a leadership role. I encouraged people there to call me Urias. Many but not Bill. He called me Reverend Beverly for five or six while I continued to call him Bill. When I asked him about said he was not comfortable calling me Urias. I never mentioned it again. One day, years later, he called me Urias. Parishioners have a comfort zone and should not be urged to out of that place until they are ready.
On the other hand, too much intimacy between pastor and parishioner can lead to other dangers. Some people are not able distinguish professional concern, compassion, and empathy personal love and romance. Some pastors have difficulty this issue. It is the pastor's responsibility to set appropriate boundaries for the relationship and realize that too much self-revelation can be a problem. So there has to be a balance in how pastors should share about themselves and how much they should remain formal in their approach to some people in some situations.
The Pastor as Connecting Link
Pastors connect the church or faith group with those outside the church—the world. But if a pastor is not appropriately connected and credentialed within a community of faith, it raises a question about the pastor's legitimacy and accountability. Because of the connection of the pastor, those with whom he or relates are automatically brought into relationship with the of faith and the God in whom that faith resides. According Patton, "Pastoral counselors are representatives of the central of life and its meaning affirmed by their religious communities. Thus pastoral counseling offers a relationship to that understanding of life and faith through the person of the pastoral counselor." This is also true for parish pastors. Like the broker, pastor brings the individual person into community with the faith group he or she represents.
Excerpted from The Places You Go by Urias Beverly. Copyright © 2003 Abingdon Press. Excerpted by permission of Abingdon Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
ContentsChapter 1 / Introduction,
Chapter 2 / In the Parishioner's Home,
Chapter 3 / In the Hospital,
Chapter 4 / In the Nursing Home,
Chapter 5 / In the Funeral Home,
Chapter 6 / In the Pastor's Office,
Chapter 7 / In the Jail,