Caring in Wesleyan Ways
By: Rev'd Mimi White
Congregational Care is a ministry of all Christians lay and clergy. Congregational Care cannot be left solely to clergy, but requires a response from all of us, the church family, in order to ensure all members are included and “no one falls through the cracks."
This is also our Wesleyan heritage.
When we gather in small groups, we are aware of the needs of our group members and respond immediately. If someone is in critical condition and hospitalized, or if there has been a death in a family, clergy can be brought in for pastoral care.
One of the many gifts of “watching over one another in love” (sharing our lives together in small groups that meet regularly) is that providing care for each other gives our lives meaning and blesses the giver oftentimes more than the receiver.
We were never created to “go it alone.” Small groups support and lovingly hold each other accountable for changes we wish to make in our lives as we all try to become more like Jesus. None of us are equipped to do this alone. Small groups intentionally stay connected regularly to grow spiritually together and to care for each other and even invite others to join us as we walk through life.
No one person or small group (clergy or laity) is equipped to meet the needs of a congregation of 100-200 people, especially when coupled with all of the responsibility of planning and leading worship and administrating all the activities of the church. That is unrealistic and not what the early church (nor what the early Methodists) practiced.
Staying connected in small groups is one of the best ways the church can provide congregational care to all of its members in times of need, or celebration, and especially in times of crisis. There has been a small group of church members in the past who have been willing to respond to our church members’ needs as they arise. These care team members still feel it is their spiritual gift to offer care and that is not changing. One of the next moves for the church to make is that of intentionally forming small groups to nurture and support one another in our daily lives and stay connected in ways that extend beyond the church building.
We were designed to share life together and this is a practical Wesleyan way of putting our words into action and living this life together as a united Body of Christ.