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Preparing Parishioners For A Pastoral Visit

In many churches, pastoral visitation has fallen out of style, but there are ways to maintain its effectiveness.

In some churches, only special groups, such as new members, receive pastoral calls. Frequently, large churches assign one minister, or a team of lay ministers, to handle regular house calls on all parishioners. Whatever your system, here are special ideas to consider for making home visitation a telling ministry.

Pastoral calling in the home has been a venerable institution In many instances, it's become a stereotype. One pictures a kindly, gray-haired shepherd of the flock, with Bible clutched firmly to chest, knocking on the cottage door of one of the faithful. His gentle summons is answered by a cheerful-looking matron holding a happy baby in one arm and her other wrapped lovingly around the three-year-old hugging her knees. "Why, Reverend Blissful, how wonderful to see you! Please come in; I've just taken a coffee cake out of the oven. I know you'll want to sample it."

Such bucolic visions were floating in my head when, fresh out of seminary, I rang the doorbell of a home belonging to ...

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