Few significant outcomes in Pastoral Home visits are,
- The principles behind pastoral visitation are Biblically mandated: Paul supplemented his public ministry with ‘house to house’ discipleship (Acts 20:20); he shared not only the gospel but his very self (or life) with the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 2:8); his instruction to Timothy incorporates broad brush ministry, but also specific relational guidelines for differing groups of members (1 Timothy 5:2). A solid theology of interpersonal pastoral discipleship from the New Testament is built. These encounters don’t need to be realized in people’s homes, but often that is the best location of all.
- Pastoral visitation keeps the need for plurality of leadership firmly on the Pastor’s agenda: A church with a significant number of members will soon wear out the best intentions of any man who believes that he can exercise pastoral care outside of the biblical pattern of a plurality of elders. Seeking to meet some of the people’s, pastoral needs will help us to recognize that we can’t meet them all. This is a great impetus to train others to share the privilege of private discipleship with church members.
- Crisis and emergency pastoral care is deepened and more fully facilitated by regular visitation: At times of need people are often inundated with specialists from the secular world who are concerned with meeting their needs in the short term. In such circumstances they need pastoral care from a trusted confidante, rather than a tasked consultant. The time spent with people in the non-crisis moments of life opens the door to ministering to them meaningfully at those times when the wheels come off.
- Pastoral visitation leads to real evangelistic opportunity: The church members do not live vacuum-sealed lives. Many of them have non-Christian family members and friends, or unsaved neighbors. The Pastor's presence in their lives and homes provides opportunity to share our lives and the gospel with non-Christians whom he would never otherwise meet. These seemingly arbitrary and casual connections can yield rich fruit if properly cultivated.
- Constant exposure to/study of Scripture places the Pastor in a unique position to bring Biblical counsel: While much is gleaned in preparation and study, some should be invested into the lives of others who can in turn minister, for Pastors are also privileged to be in sustained contact with the Word of God in a way which will uniquely shape the contours and content of pastoral counselling. Often that which is read in works of Biblical Theology is as helpful in counselling a weary Christian as it is in producing a helpful sermon.
- False teaching and wrong thinking can be more sensitively (and less censoriously) dealt with in one to one contact: There is certainly a place for exposing false teaching through pulpit ministry, which is able to be gently informed to the doctrinal thinking of church members through private conversation and counsel.
- Through visitation sharing of not only the preaching happens, but also the lives with fellow church members: Aside from getting to know members of the church, they get to know the Pastor a little better, and that can be of enormous help to their engagement with his preaching.
The Lord Jesus is our example for how to be a good counselor. More than that, as I’ve been saying, he is the Source of all loving and wise care. We can’t effectively imitate Christ except as we internalize him by putting our trust and confidence in him. So keep this in mind let's ponder over what the Scripture says about being a counsellor.
1. Isaiah Called Jesus the Wonderful Counselor
It’s good to have a number of human counselors, but their is only one Wonderful Counselor! The best counselors know this. “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light… For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be upon his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.” (Isaiah 9:2, 6-7)
2. The Psalms Point to Jesus as the Lord Who Counsels Us
A good therapist is like the Psalms of the Bible. Here at the heart of our Bible God is our Therapist who listens with compassion to all our hurts, fears, complaints, and prayers. Here the Lord journeys with us through life’s ups and downs, without judgment or even impatience, and he leads us tenderly with grace and wisdom. Jesus perfectly fulfills all the Psalms, their prophecies and the holy and wholesome human life they point to. For instance, the New Testament writers said that Jesus Christ fulfilled Psalm 16. It’s of Jesus that we say, “I will praise the LORD who counsels me, even at night my heart instructs me.” (Psalm 16:7)
3. Jesus is the Good Shepherd
Good counselors are like good shepherds; they’re like Jesus, the Good Shepherd. Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me — just as the Father knows me and I know the Father — and I lay down my life for the sheep.” (John 10-14-15) Jesus is the Shepherd and Overseer of our souls (1 Peter 2:25). The Psalm 23 Shepherd develops a close, personal relationship with his “sheep” to guide them into green pastures and still waters, be with them in dark valleys, protect them, and empower them.
4. Jesus Engaged the Samaritan Woman At the Well In Personal Conversation
Counselors use active listening skills to draw people out, to help them share their concerns and hopes, to help them understand their true need and to connect them with God’s love. This is the kind of counselor that Jesus is. Perhaps the best example of this is his ministry to the Samaritan woman at the well and then in her village. (John 4:1-42) Even though he was thirsty, he focused on her deeper thirst. He saw that she was beaten down by her sin and shame and by being abused and rejected and he surprised her by being gracious with her and engaging her in friendly conversation. He had powerful, life-changing insight to share, but he shared it gently so that she could receive it.
5. Jesus Didn’t Judge the Woman Caught in Adultery
When you’re hurting or struggling the last thing you want is to be judged! Yet, it’s so easy for people with knowledge to judge those who don’t have it. Soul shepherds must be non-judgmental. They must be safe for people to share their weaknesses and hurts to. Everyone in Jesus’ day judged adulterous women. The religious leaders wanted to stone her to death and threw her to the ground at Jesus’ feet. He put his body between them and her to shelter her. He got down on his knees in the dirt where she was. He confronted their mean-spirited arrogance and hypocrisy and they left her alone. Then he stood back up and said to her, “Look, your accusers are gone. I don’t condemn you. You’re free to go now and to leave behind your life of sin.” (John 8:10-11, paraphrased)
6. Jesus Wept (Jesus Empathizes)
Good therapists don’t just give sympathy — they give empathy. The shortest Bible verse says so much: “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). His tears for Mary and Martha as they were grieving the death of their dear brother Lazarus were not tears of sympathy. It’s not that their sadness triggered his and he spilled out. These were tears of compassion in which the Wonderful Counselor felt for them, cared for them, saw that they were missing God’s comfort and wanted this for them. Jesus is a High Priest who sympathizes with us in that he knows our human weakness from the inside as a human being. He knows our pain and our temptations to sin. But he moves from sympathy to empathy — staying focused on feeling for us and providing for what we need — by giving us access to his throne of grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:15)
7. Jesus Studied People Carefully to Really Know Them
Therapists, pastors, and other people helpers need to be students of the people they care for. Our Lord “knew what was in each person” (John 2:25). He knew their thoughts and saw their faith in God or lack of it (Matthew 9:2-4). He saw the inmost emotions of people (Mark 12:15).