I am interested to see what some of you folks think about visiting shut-ins.
I am a pastor and I would say once a week
I am a pastor and I would say once a month
I am a pastor and I would say once a quarter
I am a lay person and I would say once a week
I am a lay person and I would say once a month
I am a lay person and I would say once a quarter
No regular interval needed
I know it's something that I don't do enough of. When I do make the time for that it's always a blessing to me and I believe a blessing to those being visited.
Thanks for the reminder Gary.
About once every two weeks as a layman or at least a phone call or email.
Even with your qualifier "as a general rule", I couldn't choose. I would have chosen "it depends". How big is the congregation? How many shut-ins? How often does a specific shut-in want/expect a visit? Does the shut-in have friends or family that visit? Is the shut-in a long-time member, or an occasional attender?
Times have changed. Concerning home visits (not necessarily shut-ins) I've noticed a trend where the older folks say, "The pastor never comes to visit" and the young folks say, "What is HE doing here?" Perhaps some shut-ins would actually prefer contact by phone or even email SOME of the time, as opposed to having to be "up" for company.
I guess it would depend on just how many shut-ins the particular church has. I know aging congregations with growing numbers of shut-ins.
You can be right or you can be in relationship
Whatever your ultimate decision, I would add this intended-to-be-helpful reminder: Always call ahead to make sure your shut-ins are going to be home.
I'm reminded of an old preachers joke. One pastor asks another "What did you do today?" the pastor replies "I went to visit the shut ins." the first pastor asks "How did it go?" "Not very well" is the answer "I couldn't find any body home!"
We have a lay visitation team that goes, and I go about 1x/month, depending on whether they are stable, improving or declining.
Since I am one, may I please offer the following from my perspective?
First, you have no idea how much I appreciate visits. However, please call first. Some days are more difficult than others, so ask if itís okay before coming over unannounced.
Second, please dismiss any thoughts that you need to bring me a super spiritual devotional. Iíd like to just talk about yesterdayís ball game, or perhaps even the length of last Sundayís sermon, etc. <smile here>
Third, before leaving, ask if thereís anything practical I need. And after asking, wait for an answer. I may need a ride to the doctor this week, or the lawn mowed, or the gutters cleaned, etc. But if not, you can be assured Iíll thank you for even asking.
Fourth, and perhaps most importantly, do not overstay your welcome, please. Keep your eye on the clock. When 10-15 mins have passed, indicate you are leaving. If I want you to stay, Iíll tell you. But if I say nothing, then please say a brief prayer and grab your hat.
I sincerely hope this helps someone.
p.s. - Isnít God good?!
I think that the pastor should visit shut-ins as often as other members of the church should visit shut-ins. Keeping Nelson's sound advice, of course.
I have gone with other Pastors who have made these calls and really enjoyed them. I am not the lead pastor right now and don't really know anyone who is considered a shut in. Our pastor does make a few calls. I wish I could do some of my own but at this time I have had to make, secular work, church work, family relationships, mentoring, and class work a higher priority.
I look forward to having the opportunity to learn from those who have been around longer than I have.
Right now I have 5 shut-ins that I visit regularly. (I have two others that don't want visits.) I try to visit those who are in nursing homes or in end of life care once a week. For others it's more like once every three weeks or so.
Loving God . . . Loving others.
The one homebound (my preferred term) person I visit would be insulted if I didn't stay for an hour, but I know that is probably the exception. I usually take communion as well, and use an order of worship.
I voted, "No regular interval needed." That's because I believe that each situation is unique. I have visited one shut in 4 times over the past 8 days. Another one I haven't seen for probably a year or more. The first person is currently on 24-hour Hospice care. Prior to that she really enjoyed our regular once-per-week visits. The second person has by choice asked to not be visited because she simply so often doesn't feel well. Each situation is different.
Really what I am shooting for here is to get a sense of how pastoral care is balanced with time management in other contexts.
My father in law is a shut in. He is in a Nursing Home. He enjoys visits from our Pastor. I would suggest that you call ahead because the Nursing Home has them in activities several times a day and also sometimes they are napping. I know when our Pastor has come and my father in law missed him he has been sad that he didn't get to see him. I voted for once a week but at least twice a month would be good. I know it depends on how many shut ins your Church has and how big your Church is. But in general visits should be at least once a week or twice a month.
Mid Atlantic DistrictPost Thanks / Like - 1 Thanks, 0 LaughingNelson Bradford - "thanks" for this post
I didn't read all the responses, but here is what I do in my congregation of about 60. Visitation, to me, is to make the church present to those who cannot be present with the church. As such, I only visit those who are unable to come to church. I have many seniors, but most of them are able to get to church if the want to. I will visit them, but it is usually at their request. At the moment, I have 5 who are absolutely unable to come to church. I try to visit them every week, but it usually ends up averaging about 3x per month.
We kind of loosely group "shut-ins" into: Homebound, nursing home residents, hospital patients. I think that those in the latter two groups expect/deserve more frequent visits than someone who is homebound. As a general rule.
Clearly this is no one size fits all situation. One principle I apply is the "true widows" test Paul uses. The primary responsibility, in his eyes, rests with the family and not the church. Another principle is the lay ministry model of the book of Acts. Certain levels of home ministry rests, in that model with the lay members and not the clergy. Having said that the clergy functions as undershepherds to the Great Shepherd. There's no one size fits all but there is a place for: first, family support; second, lay support; and third, pastoral support (in that order).
To add to what I said, each congregation is different too. Church size and culture of the area will likely play into it all, as will the traditions of the congregation. It also depends on the person and the circumstances. Over the past two years, here's a list of circumstances and how I've dealt with them:
--nursing home patient who generally had all of her mental faculties and whose family generally visited with her a couple of times a week: I generally visited once a week;
--nursing home patient who was awake generally about 20% of the time and who often didn't even seem cognizant if anyone was around: I had no special schedule--especially since the nursing home was about 15 miles/30 minutes away; I generally visited only if I was in the area, and generally about once every 3 months;
--elderly man and woman who were homebound, with him having been disabled by a stroke for about 10 years. They told me not to feel it necessary to visit all the time, but that a phone call would be nice; I generally called about once a week, and visited about once a month. After the man had another stroke and died, the woman was lonelier, and I began visiting her about once a week;
--the person I previously mentioned who didn't want visitors--I try to call on the phone at least once a month (and usually end up leaving an answering machine message because the person rarely answers the phone);
--a person in a nursing home who had alzheimer's so advanced that she didn't remember me and would get confused when she saw me; the chaplain of the facility and I discussed it and felt the best course of action would be for me to leave the patient in the chaplain's care (even though the person in the nursing home was actually a full member of our congregation);
--I also have had several people connected with our congregation who do not drive due to illness/disability, but who regularly get taken to dialysis 3 times a week by family members, who get out to the store, to family get togethers, but who hardly ever "feel up to" getting to church. I try to call the one who has the more "legitimate" reason for not getting to church (among other reasons because she lives about 25 miles/40 minutes from the church, and isn't always the one to make the decision to not attend church any given week); and the other one I rarely try to contact, but make sure to talk to her on the rare occasions she makes it to church (family members who live with her are quite regular attendees, and they have told me that the shut-in person just doesn't seem to want to come to church).
Those are actual circumstances with which I've dealt over the past year or so. Perhaps this is a better illustration of why I say that I say no regular interval is needed, because a lot depends on the circumstances.
My grandson, Brayden, says five times a year. He was sitting on my lap, and asked what this thread was about. I value his advice.
Another reminder: when we visit someone in the scenarios of this thread, we are also often bringing comfort to other family members. I discovered that when the church gave shut ins a guest book, the family appreciated seeing that the pastor was with their loved one, and it also reminds the pastor of how long it has been (oops!).
I feel somewhat reluctant to post this, but it may help someone, so here goes. I find it very difficult to ask for help. And that may be the same for your people.
So please allow me to offer this suggestion, if I may.
BE SPECIFIC in your questions. ASK, do you need a ride to the doctor, etc. Watch for their reaction. And listen.
Second, and I find this difficult, but if your sidewalk needs shoveling, chances are their sidewalk may also need shoveling. So when leaving for that visitation, take your snow shovel with you. And just do it. Got that?
Further, do your gutters need cleaning? Getting all those leaves out before winter sets in? Chances are, their gutters need cleaning also. Maybe get 2-3 guys together some Sat a.m. and just go do it for all the shut-ins of your church.
IMHO, these are just a few suggestions where the local church could indeed become the Body of Christ...serving others in need.
Thank you for your indulgence.
There are a few folks that I visit weekly. A married couple in a nursing home, and a widow living at home with an adult son who is on his best days difficult. I bring them CDs of the worship service. While they appreciate my visits, Scott's statement above about the value of lay visitation rings true. The husband asks me every visit why none of the men of the church come to visit him. I am always sad to remind him that he is in his 80s, has not regularly attended in almost a decade, and there are very few men who know him. What I do not tell him is that none of the men in the church in their 70s and 80s want to set foot in a nursing home.
The widow requires at least a weekly visit from myself and from two separate groups of women, and a daily call from someone. No matter how long anyone stays, she would like us to stay longer. It breaks your heart.
I have yet to figure out the expectations of those folks who are in church most Sundays, but still want a pastoral visit - and refuse to schedule it. "Stop in anytime," they say. And I have also failed to figure out the expectations of families who will not come to church over some slight either from the recent past or from 20 years ago, but want a regular pastoral visit.
I voted "no regular interval" just because every situation is different. And people's expectations are different.
The only people I'm visiting regularly right now are (1) a member who's laid up at home due to health issues (recovering from surgery right now) and (2) a young man in jail whose parents are long-time members. I try to visit both of them weekly, the first for about an hour (I bring breakfast from McD's), and the second for about 15-30 minutes.
The only other homebound person we have right now (that I know of) is an elderly woman who just can't get out anymore... and I almost never visit her, because (1) she was uncomfortable with my seeing her in her current living conditions (messy, etc), and (2) she doesn't make it to the phone when I try to arrange a visit. Her adult son and his wife are regular attenders, so I get updates through them, and every few months she's doing well enough for them to bring her to church with them. This thread is reminding me that I need to call them to see how she's doing and to see if they can help me arrange a visit with her.
A very dear friend confessed his feelings of failure in his first pastorate because he couldn't get to every home, every week. He wasn't talking about just the shut ins. He's doing better now, forty years later. His present church has more staff than his first church had members.
And if we're including hospital visits in this category (as some did earlier)... well, in those cases, I'd typically visit daily... or at least multiple times/week.
So... I think I'll stick with "no regular interval."