Recently I was in Ohio, sitting with a small group of pastors, when the conversation turned to pastoral care.
All of them were confronted regularly by staggering issues within their congregations: cancer, disintegrating marriages, unemployment, tragic accidents, suicides, sexual abuse, chemical dependency, business failures, runaway or rebellious children. The list seemed endless.
"As a pastor," said one, "when someone in the church comes to me, I want to enfold that person with attention until the problem is resolved. After all, we're family!"
Others around the table agreed but immediately pointed out the tension they felt.
"You can spend most of your week on three or four people's problems. Do you focus on the needy few or the needs of the body as a whole?"
"Churches pastored by 'pastoral-care types' generally don't grow, and yet you can't grow unless you're caring for people."
"If the church becomes a spiritual hospital, focused primarily on bandaging wounds, it tends not to develop the muscular ...1