How to Visit the Sick

We are called to visit the sick. As shepherds of the church, you are the first line of defense. And yet visitation can be done well or done poorly. With Nate’s illness, we were on the receiving end of some great visits and one or two that could have used the checklist below.  The only thing I would add, is a phone call early can bring connection with the body when we cannot physically be there. And in the era of cell phones, this is much easier. Chap

From Kevin DeYoung.

Brian Croft, Pastor at Auburndale Baptist Church in Louisville, has written a helpful little book entitled Visit the Sick: Ministering God’s Grace in Times of Illness. Pastors, elders, and deacons would do well to read it. It wouldn’t take much more than an hour.

On p. 67, Croft lays out a visitation checklist. I found this extremely useful. The comments after each item are mine.

Theological

  • Ask leading questions – Don’t chatter away, inquire
  • Read Scripture – Let God do some of the talking
  • Pray the gospel  – You may not be able to share it, but you can always pray it
  • Affirm the promises and attributes of God – Listen first, but don’t be afraid to gently teach
  • Trust God’s sovereign plan – Remind them again and again

Pastoral

  • Prepare your heart – don’t coast into visitation, get spiritually ready
  • Watch your time – five or ten minutes can be enough, thirty minutes tops in most situations
  • Listen, don’t solve – They’ll remembered you were there, not your advice
  • Leave a note – Good way to salvage an “empty” trip
  • Enjoy the moment – Visitation is a privilege

Practical

  • Make eye contact – Shows you care
  • Touch with discernment – A held hand in the right situation can speak volumes
  • Be pleasant – Being a jerk is a bad idea
  • Be perceptive – Pull up a chair and sit at their level
  • Freshen your breath – Give them Christian Hedonism, not Christian Halitosis
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