Without question, my favorite part of Charles J. Brown’s The Ministry are the four pages dedicated exclusively to the issue of “Pastoral Visitation.” Brown begins, first of all, with the assumption that all pastors will visit their flock. But he realizes that this task is not without its difficulties and questions. I want to post first the account he gives of his original frustration in the task of visitation, and then tomorrow post the resolution at which he arrived. So first, the frustrating beginning:
“In order to get through the work – as I fancied, more effectually – I took what was called a day’s visiting commencing soon after breakfast, and ending late in the afternoon. Finding usually a large family Bible set down for my use, I took it, and expounded a passage in every house, engaging afterwards in prayer. By degreees, this became so exhausting that I was obliged, or at least tempted, frequently break in upon it, and soon found the visiting of the entire congregation to be a herculean task, requiring not less than two or three or four years.” (85)
I cannot say that I have attempted to expound an entire passage of Scripture in every house of the flock, but I have experienced both exhaustion and frustration in pastoral visitation. This can come through not knowing how to turn a conversation to spiritual things, grappling with my own lack of experience in this area, wondering how to start this whole pastoral visit in the first place, and any number of other struggles. Perhaps you have experienced the same. I think Brown’s resolution tomorrow will help point the way ahead.