This is another post in a year long series on practical ministry tips and tools. The following is a guest post by Ben Siburt. Ben served several years as a hospital chaplain and over a decade in full time church work, and is currently the Executive minister (think Old Testament High Priest) at the Highland Church of Christ in Abilene. He’s also a good friend and one of the more gifted people I know at entering into spaces where people are hurting:
I think it is impossible to ever carry the label of expert in the arena of hospital visitation. If you ever are in need of some humility, then spend time visiting people in the hospital. I remember several times that I would label as less than pastorally sensitive. Like the time I walked into a room of someone who was in a tragic car wreck that cost them the life of a family member and broke both of their legs and pelvis. The first phrase out of my mouth was a question and it was, “How are you doing?”
That is high quality pastoral presence and ministry, or simply a really dumb question. The look on the patient’s face told me clearly it was option B. My list of blunders and times of picking the wrong thing to say could fill weeks and weeks of this blog. I spent a summer working as a chaplain intern in Houston’s Medical Center and 5 years as an intern and part-time chaplain at Abilene’s Hendrick Hospital. My ten years in full-time church ministry has seen many hospital rooms. Most recently I speak as a family member who just completed a three-year journey of watching my dad die of cancer.
Jonathan has already provided great truth about this poignant aspect of ministry, and so I will add a few additional truths that hopefully are helpful. Continue reading Inspi(re)ality #5: Hospitals Visits