"My elders and I did our best to visit every household in the congregation once a year"

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Jim's picture

I'm not sure how important annual elder visits are:

  • The author makes a good case for them: "It is very difficult to get to know people if the only interaction you have with them is on Sunday when you spy their faces from the pulpit ..."
  • I suspect that in small churches (say under 100) that this routinely takes place
  • I suspect that in larger churches, it rarely takes place

 

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Makes you wonder if we should have large churches.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Jonathan Charles's picture

Most pastors are too busy to make preemptive visits.  It is an ideal thing to do, but realistically, it would be very hard to accomplish.  It is ideal, too, to deal with spiritual needs before they turn into three-alarm fires, but it seems from this pastor's experience that most people will lie when asked pointed questions about where they are spiritually struggling. 

I remember Richard Baxter commending home visits for the purpose of one-on-one spiritual examination and catechizing even at the expense of preaching and the time it takes to prepare.  Maybe people were more open with the state of their soul back then. 

J.Schmitz's picture

My wife is in the nursery and children's church almost every service. Our babies are loud, and our kids make up over half the kid's group. Our people are almost all 70+ years in age, and most are frail. They are unwilling or unable to be in nursery or the kids program. 

My wife often wonders if we should have small churches. :) 

Small or large, they have their own troubles.

Alex Guggenheim's picture

As I was taught, each week at a minimum and for many churches two or three times a week, that  the Pastor visits my family as I visit him when he teaches from the pulpit. My responsibility is to take those principles he is communicating to me and my family and apply them.

jimfrank's picture

I know it, you know it, we all know that we should visit the members of our churches to the best of our abilities. What if the members don't want the pastor in their homes?

Bill Roach's picture

Meaning, that if you want to dig into someone's life and ask them to confess deep sin to you, I think you need to have a relationship that is just as deep.

Visiting people in their home is one way to accomplish that, but certainly not the only way.

 

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

J.Schmitz wrote:

My wife is in the nursery and children's church almost every service. Our babies are loud, and our kids make up over half the kid's group. Our people are almost all 70+ years in age, and most are frail. They are unwilling or unable to be in nursery or the kids program. 

My wife often wonders if we should have small churches. :) 

Small or large, they have their own troubles.

The difference is that despite a difficult stage of life for your wife (we have been there and done that) there is nothing neglected in the church. A pastor who doesn't make time to visit a family even once during a calendar year is going to be hard pressed to convince anyone he is shepherding that family. 

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Alex Guggenheim's picture

I would have to disagree that a Pastor of some sort has to visit a home. In Acts in directing Deacons to be chosen the reason for this was so to permit the Elders to continue in prayer and the ministry of the word. Now one might wish to assert that the ministry of the Word can include personal visits but that would be at best an assumption and clearly not binding which would remove it from a point of criticism if not performed. What we do see overwhelmingly is the ministry of the Word via assembling.

To this confessing of sins. Are we in Rome? If I sin against someone I confess it so to that person which is what is meant by confessing our sins one to another but it does not have in view the necessity of broadcasting private offenses and confessions or sharing them with an ecclesiastical official if they are not involved. This is not to say one cannot or should not confide in such persons when dealing with a sin or sinful trends but it is not required and a Pastor should never presume the right to such confessions merely because he visits and/or inquires and/or because he is an ordained Minister.

A church member is accountable to the church, which would and does include but not limited to, the Pastor(s) with regard to stated membership requirements. Anything outside of that should not be viewed by any one in the church including its governing body to be presumptively or rightfully their business. Such matters are firmly by invitation only. It seems some believe Pastors have some kind of carte blanche into the lives of church members.

By way of anecdote our Pastor has not been in our home in five years but he is in our lives every day as we take his teaching and apply it every day in every way.

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Alex,

 

It is the pastors, not the deacons, who are called to shepherd the flock. That cannot happen with nothing more than limited contact at corporate meetings. 

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Alex Guggenheim's picture

So you say...but again, where is this a requirement in the Bible family visits in order to shepherd a flock? But as I just pointed out, the Shepherds need to focus on prayer and the ministry of the Word. That is precisely how they Shepherd a flock.

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

Alex,

Prayer and ministering the Word are certainly the highest priorities in shepherding, but if that was all that was needed to shepherd there would be no need for physical contact at all. We could all sit and watch our pastor on a video screen as he shepherded congregations on multiple campuses. The personal relationship is a necessary part of the ministry process.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Personal contact is assumed by the NT but what you wish to do is prescribe a type as dogmatically or unquestionably necessary. The contact described as the means and method is via the assembling together by members and those ordained to minister.

Chip Van Emmerik's picture

The very metaphor of the shepherd requires personal, individual (not just corporate) contact.

Why is it that my voice always seems to be loudest when I am saying the dumbest things?

James K's picture

Qualifications for an elder:

1 Tim 3:2-8

2 An overseer, therefore, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, self-controlled, sensible, respectable, hospitable, an able teacher,

3 not addicted to wine, not a bully but gentle, not quarrelsome, not greedy-

4 one who manages his own household competently, having his children under control with all dignity.

5 (If anyone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of God's church?)

6 He must not be a new convert, or he might become conceited and fall into the condemnation of the Devil.

7 Furthermore, he must have a good reputation among outsiders, so that he does not fall into disgrace and the Devil's trap.

I see at least two explicit requirement for being actively involved in people's lives outside of a pulpit/prayer ministry.  Therefore, to be biblically qualified to be the preacher, he must already practice these things.  I can't prescribe how often it takes place, but for it to not happen outside of a church gathering is pitiful pastoral work.  Such a man is not qualified by the NT standards.

Praying and preaching are not to be sacrificed in favor of things that do not fall under the qualifications.

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

Alex Guggenheim's picture

James

Precisely, it cannot be prescribed in any dogmatic fashion how such things are to be carried out. Thus many criticisms often unwarranted when human formulas are elevated to dogma.

Chip

No one has said there will not be attendance by a shepherd to the sheep but the prescribed method is prayer and the ministry of the Word. You want to go beyond this a make what might or might not be helpful practices as prescribed thus warranting criticism if not performed. Sorry but here is where dogma ends and your opinion begins.