I was never a natural at some of the “standard” pastoral skills. I wasn’t sure what to say on hospital visits or what to do at weddings. The church I was part of offered counseling after the services, and sometimes it was hard for me to know what to do when people came up for counsel and prayer. For many pastors, those skills come easily, but not for me.
Fortunately, very early in my ministry I served in an internship position where they had a system in place for teaching pastoral care skills. The internship took place in a very large church where they had a few pastors who did nothing but hospital visits, weddings, funerals, and counseling people after services. I went with them and watched what they did. Then I got a chance to take the lead and try out some of those new skills with the pastors watching. Afterwards the more experienced leaders and I talked about some of the ways I could do it more effectively. The next time I did it, I tried to do what they had suggested, and slowly I could see my competence level rising.
How would you like to set up a way to train people from within your ministry in basic pastoral skills? You don’t need to be part of a big church to do it. I’ve recently created a set of 37 Leadership Skills Guides, one of which focuses on teaching various Pastoral Skills. You can walk through these skills with just a handful of people in your congregation that you’d like to train.
It’s always worth developing and investing in your people—even if we don’t all seem like naturals at first.