You may have read our previous post on having a Red-Hot “Centre” that resources and equips communities to live out missionally in the place God has called them.
Today we’re going to look at the role of the centre in equipping and releasing the whole body to engage in pastoral care. Last week I had the absolute joy of meeting with Heather Andrews who heads up Pastoral Care at St Thomas Church, Crookes in Sheffield along with her co-worker Karen Robinson.
Heather has headed up the pastoral team at Crookes now for the last 7 years. Her humble nature was a breath of fresh air, and though she was quick to state they certainly haven’t got all the answers, I’m sure we can learn from their wisdom and the journey they’ve been on as a church.
Tell me a bit about your background.
It’s certainly not expertise in this area! I came into it from doing youth work and some community work on a voluntary basis. I worked in the local shop and had previously been a child-minder. So I have no formal pastoral qualification. And I think that has probably been quite an important aspect. I’m a person who is learning what to do – just like everyone else. We believe pastoral care is not about a few special people who do everything, so we are always depending on God’s grace and revelation to grow this ministry within the hearts of all the people in our communities.
What’s your goal or aim with pastoral care?
When I came on team, it was to develop a pastoral ministry which complemented our context. It had to be able to work effectively in a fast-moving and frequently changing church. Light weight and low maintenance was essential, as was low control and high accountability.
Our initial aim was that we had healthy, whole people out on mission. And then we realised that it wasn’t about having healthy individuals but rather having healthy whole communities out on mission. We realised that healing and wholeness come in community not on our own.
Our call is based on the verses from Ephesians 4: 11-13, especially verse 12
“to prepare God’s people for works of service so that the body of Christ may be built up.”
We’re called Prepared to Care. That’s because people need to be both prepared in their hearts to choose to care, but also to be prepared in terms of equipping to be able to care. There’s a balance of the desire to do it and the skill and competency to be able to pastor and care well.
Our vision is to inspire and grow a culture of care in and through missional communities by equipping the churches for ‘whole body ministry’ and equipping individuals to care in their families, neighbourhoods, and workplaces.
Up –Properly Expectant
First and foremost, we’re expectant that God will heal, restore and transform lives. It’s not about us and that is so freeing! It’s not that I’ve got to make this person whole again. But rather if I do my part, God will do His. It’s about being expectant of what God will do and my role to play within that. God is very gracious.
Secondly, we want to be properly expectant of ourselves and others. The picture we have is that we’re all soldiers on the frontline. We have to depend on the soldiers next to us. On the mission field we’re facing the enemy; we’re in the middle of war so we need to know we’re defending and being defended by the person next to us. They’re the one who will help us if we get shot. You can’t wait until you get back home. Everyone has to be ready to do the first aid and to carry them back if necessary. It’s more than just community, it becomes communitas: an intensity of comradeship and solidarity.
IN – Equipped
This is about equipping everyone with the practicalities of pastoral care. Simple things like how to spend time with people wisely so you don’t fall into the traps of dependency and over-committing. We teach on things like setting boundaries and putting the right commitments to God, family, and others in the right order. We also talk about responding (thought-through and reasoned response) to need, prayerfully asking God to show us our part in bringing healing and restoration, NOT reacting (a defensive reaction filled with emotion and immediacy because something MUST be done) to need, which can end in conflict and broken relationships .
Part of the equipping is also about leaders being able to come to us at any point to talk and pray through the situations they face and find God’s leading through.
OUT – Ready for use
This is about the choice in our hearts – being ready for God to use us rather than being ready to do it all in my own strength. It’s also about being ready to go out and care not just for other Christians but for everyone in your community. We can use simple pastoral skills that are not just for the church – they can be effectively used for any situation. The only way pastoral care can be missional is if people are prepared to do the same for non-Christians as we would for Christians; whether that’s offering to pray, take meals round etc.
Our understanding is that everybody should engage in the five-fold (apostles, prophets, evangelists, teachers and pastors) and teach others how to do that. Part of the role of the pastoral ministry is to multiply it into others, to the rest of the church. We’d rarely hear someone say “I’m not an evangelist so I won’t engage in mission”. Our heart is that pastoral care isn’t something that is automatically “outsourced” to a few. When God brings his transformation it’s so encouraging for the body to see that transformation. As we are encouraged to get into each other’s mess, let others see our sin and choose to be the prayer ministers and care givers, faith grows across the body as we see transformation.
On Thursday we’ll look at some of the mind-sets that help with Pastoral Care, as well as the challenges that Heather and Karen have faced during time in Pastoral Care.
Heather has been pastoral coordinator at STC for the last 7 years. She is a Sheffield girl born and bred, and was married for 33 years to Edward, who died three years ago. They were keen motorcyclists and members of the Christian Motorcyclists Assoc for several years. Heather has two children and three grandchildren, and loves being a granny. Especially when she gets to go to all the best kids films. And gets things like a hamster for her birthday. She has been in church all her life but only became a Christian in her thirties. She has loved being a youth leader, a football coach [?] and a childminder among lots of other things.
Karen has been on pastoral staff for 6 years. She came onto team after leaving her job as Special Needs Coordinator at St. Thomas’ Nursery. She is married to Tim and has three children and two adorable and lively grandsons. As long time members of STC, she and Tim have seen and embraced many changes and been in the forefront of stepping into the new. Karen has recently taken up running and is often to be seen on the streets of Crookes along with Tim. She enjoys time with family and friends and is a keen gardener.