Yesterday, Charles Brown (1806-1884) spoke to the issue of frustration in pastoral visitation of his flock (see below). Today, I’d like to share the resolution Brown arrived at when a serious illness forced him to scale back his workload:
“First, I visited only twelve families a week – six on each of two days, – but kept to this with almost undeviating regularity. Second, I took care to have the visits well and thoroughly arranged, and carefully intimated. Third, I gave up the plan of formal exposition of each house. relying on the pulpit for the more formal teaching of the flock, I now went to their houses for a different purpose -viz., to hold free spiritual intercourse with them, and make their acquaintance . . . it had now became an object with me to get the rest to take a share. ” (The Ministry, 86)
Well, the result of this change of method was that, in the first place, by the simple changing of my voice to a conversational tone, and sharing the conversation with others (though, of course, I took the chief part), I underwent scarcely any fatigue, and secondly, that I occupied no more than twenty minutes, on an average, with each visit – praying shortly before the close.” (87)
Brown’s change: scheduled visits, brief, and conversational. The result: visitation of six families a day at twenty minutes a shot. This enabled him to visit every member of his congregation for seven consecutive years, “with deep joy and satisfaction.” Surely there is something to this. I think a certain spiritual atmosphere would have to be fostered through the pulpit ministry for a twenty minute “conversational” visit to uncover important spiritual matters. It would require agreement on the front end between pastor and people on the nature of the visits and their scheduling. But what a glorious vision!
Again, surely there is something to this.