Occasionally I'll hear that pastors of churches the size of Good Shepherd don't do hospital visitation anymore.
Now I don't do all of it. I share responsibilities with Rich Tuttle, our Pastor of Congregational Care, who has an anointing to do hospital work. And I don't throw that word around lightly -- he really is anointed by God to bring a caring and mature presence to anxiety-filled situations in both hospitals and funeral homes. But there are several reasons why in spite of our size and style I'm committed to the "traditional" role of the preaching pastor as a hospital visitor as well:
- The ministry of presence. The mere presence of a pastoral figure at the hospital is a reminder that God is in charge. I usually don't have any earth-shattering or life-altering words to say; however, my presence is a visual reminder of the One I represent.
- Preaching. How in the world can I speak into people's lives if I don't know the struggles they have? Hospital work allows me to get to know people on a much deeper level than the occasional "hello" in the church lobby.
- Making a big church small. I'll admit it. I like it when people are surprised that I take the time to visit. But it's all about making a large church feel more intimate. Any steps we can take to eliminate anonymity and grow community -- we'll take them.
So that's where I'll be later this afternoon. And why I'll be there.