Part 2 of 3- What is Pastoral Care, Expectations

What Can You Expect from Your Pastor?

Our comprehensive shepherding plan centers on assigning every partner to a pastor/elder. This assigning does two things:

1. It gives our partners a clear understanding of who is responsible for their spiritual care.

2. It gives our pastors a clear expectation of the partners he is responsible for.

You may, however, still be unsure of what to expect from your pastor, so we are giving you our list of pastoral expectations.

1. Relationship

What this means:

Part of shepherding care is to “know,” the flock and knowing requires that the elders/pastors can identify the sheep for whom they are accountable to the Lord. Therefore, your pastor will have a relationship with you rather than being totally disengaged from your life. One of the ways he will do this is in the next point – he makes shepherding calls to you a couple of times a year. Another way he may do this is by occasionally visiting your small group. To make things simple, we have assigned whole small groups to one pastor so that we can better shepherd through an entire small group and its leader. Also, from time to time, a pastor may get two or three of the groups that he is shepherding together for a time of fellowship. For partners that are not in a group, they will still be assigned to a pastor, and they will be encouraged to join a group.  These are just a few ways your pastor intends on nurturing relationships with dozens of assigned partners.

What this doesn’t mean:

The reality for all of our pastors is a tremendously busy life. With young children, businesses, jobs, ministries, and the task of shepherding dozens of people, things can get hectic. Therefore, it would be unrealistic to think you can hang out with your pastor every night or talk over the phone for hours on end. Please understand our deep love for you and that we are available to you. We just want everyone’s expectations to be realistic.

2. Shepherding Calls

What this means:

So many times in ministry, pastors react to the needs of people yet never take the time to be proactive with people. While we will respond to needs of our partners, we also desire to be proactive by making at least two shepherding calls a year to our assigned partners. In these calls, your pastor will check on your spiritual health and growth primarily focusing on how you are doing with discipleship by asking about your following, learning, and reproducing of Jesus.

There should also be time to answer questions or concerns you may have and take the time to pray for you. You will receive an email well in advance from your pastor to set up a time to call you (and your family) along with a framework of the discussion you will have. Our aim is to make this simple and respect your time by keeping the conversation to about twenty minutes.

What this doesn’t mean:

We never want to make these calls feel like you are going to a clinic in some unknown town to visit a doctor you’ve never seen. We hope to be more like a family doctor who knows you and you know and trust. In other words, these calls are not a “check the box” impersonal duty, but rather a loving responsibility we believe will help you thrive spiritually.

3. Confidentiality

What this means:

Your dirty laundry will not be making the pastor’s sermon on Sunday, nor are you going to hear your news coming back to you from other people like a boomerang. Your pastor will not relay your struggles, sins, and other confidential information to others in the church.

What this doesn’t mean:

There are a couple of exceptions to this rule. First, if we hear of a felony you’ve committed, we are obligated to inform proper authorities. Secondly, if there is a church discipline issue, we can’t say we will keep it confidential if we plan on honoring Matthew 18:15-17 where an unrepentant sinner is brought before the church. Bear in mind that only repeated, long-lasting unrepentant sin will be brought to the church.  This means that until you've been approached by one, then by two or three, then by the elders about willing sin in your life and you refuse to pursue "turning" or "repenting" from that sin, the church body won’t be informed.  We will not bring "sin struggles" before the church.  Those are sins that, though you struggle with them and sometimes still commit them, you recognize them as sin and are actively working and praying toward ending them.

4. Availability

What this means:

You will have your pastor’s contacts, and he will be available to your needs especially when there is a crisis.

What this doesn’t mean:

Your small group is the first place of primary care for you – your group is like first responders. So, don’t let your pastor take the place of the primary care of your group. Your group will handle such things like meal trains, daily visits, and the such. Also, your primary one-on- one discipleship most likely will not come directly from your pastor, but more than likely another partner or group member.

5. Presence in crisis and celebrations

What this means:

If you or your immediate family is in the hospital, going through a crisis such as death, marital problems, or troubled children, your pastor’s presence is significant. Your pastor can be present, not only in times of crisis, but also in times of celebration like a child’s birth, occasional parties, or other celebrations of milestones. Proper protocol would be first to contact your small group and then your pastor.

What this doesn’t mean:

Just to reiterate point number 1, our pastors carry an extremely heavy burden of caring for their families and the partners under their care. However, that doesn’t mean you are a bother or we don’t want to be with you in crisis and celebrations. It just means we may need a little time to put some things in order before we get to you.

6. Some questions

What this means:

He will ask you questions about your life. He wants to know your struggles, your sins, and your shortcomings. He doesn’t just want to know about the bad things-- but the joyful things, too. The important aspect here is sharing and communicating. Your pastor can’t be faithful to shepherd you if you are not open and honest with him. So expect some probing questions during the shepherding calls – it's just because he loves you and wants the best for you.

What this doesn’t mean:

He won’t be asking creepy or inappropriate questions. He won’t be judgmental and condemning when you are struggling with issues. He will be loving, professional and understanding.

7. Prayer covering

What this means:

Your pastor will consistently pray for you by name each week.  What an honor for your pastor to pray for you and what a privilege for a man of God to constantly be lifting you up to the Lord!

You may get a text from him sometimes saying, “praying for you,” or “How can I pray for you?” If you are in need of prayer, send your pastor an email or text to let him know how he can pray.

What this doesn’t mean:

When we say we are “praying for you,” it's not some meaningless, non-existent jargon we are speaking. We mean it - we are actually asking the God of all creation, King of Heaven and Earth, to act on your behalf for His glory and your good.

8. Disappointments

What this means:

Your pastor WILL mess up. And, it's not if, but when. The truth is that your pastor is flesh and blood – a mere man who sins and makes mistakes. Please be patient with him as he wholeheartedly desires to shepherd and care for you well. Keep in mind that if he never knows he disappointed you, he never will be able to address, fix, repent or handle it. He needs to know when disappointments happen so that both of you can grow.

What this doesn’t mean:

Your pastor will never use this expectation as an excuse to fail you. Even though he may disappoint and fail, that doesn’t let him off the hook. One great thing about having a plurality of elders is that we will be holding one another accountable too. Please continue to pray for us as we strive to meet these expectations! We are looking forward to the next months and years of serving and loving you toward Jesus.