3 Ways to Keep People from Falling Through the Cracks

Breeze Church Management

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Pastoral care is about people – that means the needs you respond to are as different and nuanced as the people you care for. Just knowing what level of interaction and support is needed for each person can be a challenge in and of itself. Stack this on top of your other responsibilities, the timing and flow of responding to care needs, and coordinating your team – it’s a perfect recipe for stress, anxiety and unmet care needs. 

Our people are falling through the cracks.”

We hear this from pastoral care teams a lot. The demands of caring for an entire congregation can be intense, and can sometimes make it seem as though there’s no alternative to simply responding as care needs arise. However, there are a few key things that help you move toward a more proactive approach and achieve your pastoral care goals.

Centralize Your Pastoral Care Notes

Scribbling in a notebook, jotting details down on a sticky note or typing in the notes app on your phone is a quick and easy way to log a pastoral care interaction. But, what happens  when you need to find those details again – right now? Have you asked yourself “where did I put those notes? I know I typed them somewhere.” It always seems to be at the exact moment you need to recall that one important detail. It feels so stressful because you know the value of those details – they provide important context in caring for your people and help you show them how invested you are in their journey.

You can increase your level of care by centralizing your pastoral notes and interactions in one place. Many leaders turn to the infamous pastoral care spreadsheet; spreadsheets have their advantages and shortcomings, but are nonetheless extremely common among care teams. Many church leaders are turning to dedicated pastoral care software options like Notebird.

Notebird provides one central place for all your touch points, visitation and conversation notes—allowing you to see a history of care for each congregant.

Try Notebird Free for 14 Days

Schedule Follow-ups

You may find that you are great at providing care and support when a life event or pastoral issue first arises. The initial phone call, in-person visits and spiritual direction might come easy to you, but coordinating follow-up in the days, weeks and months is where people start to fall through the cracks. Following up with a congregant provides a sense of assurance that they belong – and that someone is making it a priority to care for them.  It demonstrates that they are worth the time and effort it takes to visit or place a call during a busy week. 

It’s easy to get swept back into work after a pastoral call or visitation. We recommend that at the same time you’re making your notes you schedule a follow-up right after talking with your congregant. This is the moment when details of their life situation are fresh in your mind and you can best assess the most impactful time for follow-up. 

Invite others to help you with pastoral care 

Regardless of the size of your congregation, having others help you provide physical, emotional and spiritual support is a game changer. The gift of a care team is that you have more hands and hearts to genuinely care for your people. Consider the following as you move forward:

  1. Invite the ones already doing care. You already have this person in mind. It’s the person who is already taking meals over to parents who just had a baby. It’s the person who intentionally checks in with elderly congregants each and every Sunday. Invite the person who asks visitors to lunch with their family any time they see a new face. This doesn’t have to be a big recruitment campaign – you can simply start with the people you personally know in the congregation who have a passion for caring for others. 
  2. Provide simple care training. Don’t know where to start? Ask yourself this question, “what do I wish someone would have told me in the first few months of providing pastoral care?” It doesn’t have to be a three-day retreat and full accreditation program. Remember, the people you invited and who said yes already have the passion to care for others. You are simply providing helpful tools as well as a stamp of confidence for them to help you with the work of caring for people. 
  3. Delegate care tasks. Now that you have your trained care team it’s time to allow them to help you care for others to ensure that pastoral care needs are met. Instead of feeling pressure to personally handle every situation, you, as the  church leader, can entrust your trained team to step in and provide the necessary support. 

By centralizing your pastoral notes, scheduling follow-ups promptly and inviting others to join in the mission of care, you can mitigate the risk of individuals slipping through the cracks.

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