Volume 3 Issue 8
As a pastor, I find myself becoming increasingly involved in hospital visitation. What do you suggest as being most important in this aspect of ministry?
Obviously your question is of concern for all ministers inasmuch as hospital work is an ongoing part of pastoral duties.
Everyone seems to have their own method and style, of course, but, if you like, I will offer a few suggestions for you to think about and consider:
First, the spiritual aspect of healing is now well recognized by most hospitals. Therefore, ministers have easy access to most situations these days. However, the minister must always show respect toward hospital staff, and gratitude for the professional courtesies extended to him. These must never be abused.
Secondly, patients need and are encouraged by a pastoral visit. However, the length of time that the pastor stays at the bedside should be brief, in most cases. A five-minute hospital visit is usually adequate for words of encouragement and a time of prayer. A person who is sick is often unduly stressed by a long visit from anyone, including their minister.
Finally, a hospital visit should bring encouragement and cheer. Ministers should he careful to avoid negative subjects or stories about the illness of others. Leaving a room with a fresh sparkle of enthusiasm is a real gift to the sick.