Every member of the shepherd’s flock deserves sympathy and understanding at a time of death.

We were relaxing in the lovely family room of one of our elders after eating a delicious meal. Members and spouses of the “Personnel, Policy and Pastoral Relations Committee” were comfortably seated around the room.

I asked them for input. “What concerns do you have about Trinity Church? What suggestions for my ministry? Tell me what 1 need to hear, not what I want to hear.”

Some small talk followed; compliments, appreciation. Then the ax fell.

Said Dave, “I think you have been inconsistent in your ministry to church members who have experienced a death in the family. I know of two families who weren’t contacted at all after the loss of parents—yet other families not only were visited but were sent flowers.”

Dave’s wife, Kathy, then reminded me that I had not visited her after the death of her father.

I did remember seeing both Kathy and her father in the hospital. Cancer was ravaging his body. The father’s own pastor was also there that day, and was asked to conduct the funeral services for the father when he died.

I wasn’t sure what was expected of me. Should I visit the funeral home? Where did I fit in as Kathy’s, not her father’s, pastor?

Now I asked, “What should I have done?”

“You are my pastor,” Kathy said. “I needed to have a personal visit from you after Dad died to ease my grief.”

The answer was so obvious!

The next day in my office I wrote a specific procedure to insure consistent pastoral response to the needs of all church families who experience death. Included in this procedure are the following steps:

1. After the church is notified about a death in a church family, the information is passed on in writing to the pastor.

2. The ...

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