By Ward Shope
This month, the Session received a question from a member of the congregation. The question revealed personal pain this person has experienced and, on some level, continues to experience due to a broken past. Some of the elders were familiar with background events, and two were appointed to meet with this person to see if there was some way they could be helpful.
Not all pastoral needs come to the Session so benignly. In some cases, relationships have shattered, the horses have left the barn and we are hoping the Spirit can lasso the parties and bring them into a place of humble conversation with one another. However the cases come, one of our options is to appoint a care team to meet with whatever parties are involved, and to help them by God’s grace come to a resolution that glorifies him and heals any damaged relationships.
However, several assumptions are being made when a care team is appointed. First, as a Session, we are trusting one or two elders to use the wisdom God has given them to be instruments of resolution. We understand that we all have unique gifts and backgrounds that will provide the best care we can offer. Second, we trust people in the congregation. Most care teams include non-elders. Where a woman is involved, we look for other spiritually mature women to help our male blindsides. We also look for other relationships that already exist with the parties involved. It might be a home group leader, or someone who has had a previous mentoring relationship with them. These are people who can listen to those who are struggling with a sympathetic ear, pray for them, and speak meaningfully into their lives.
Often the care team may look for other resources. If finances are scarce, the deacons may be contacted. Food may be provided through the food cupboard. Childcare can be sought. If a person needs the help of a counseling professional, we will refer them to an appropriate one who can help in addition to the support and wisdom of the care team.
None of this guarantees a full resolution. But as the Session and the larger church minister together, the environment may promote the working of God’s Spirit in the lives of those who are hurting. And we hope that the humble responses of repentance and forgiveness will bring complete healing.