Ministry happens in a variety of settings. Rest Homes, Hospitals, Prisons and in some work places.
Jesus showed compassion toward those who were “distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd” (Matt. 9:36) sharing hope and encouragement to them. There are many downcast people in our local communities who for one reason or another struggle to enjoy daily living. There are many people forced to live in Pensioner Units, Rest Homes and Supported care facilities. These people may well have been regular Church attendees but now due to their Health and other circumstances simply can’t make it to Services or church gatherings.
As Lay Preachers there are numerous opportunities to minister in Rest homes and the like. Perhaps there maybe others in your church who would enjoy such an outreach.
Rest homes provide an avenue to obey God, Who tells us to serve the downcast and rejected. Not every resident in a Rest home is sad. Many are very happy. Some are only there for a brief time of care before they go home again. Others live out their time comforted and reassured by dedicated staff. As Lay Preachers we should look for opportunities to share the ‘Rest Home’ ministry roster which is often run by local Inter church Associations.
It is particularly important that we as Lay Preachers don’t let our enthusiasm run away with us. It’s inappropriate to cold call on residents and preach at them. When we go to lead a devotional session it needs to be for those who voluntarily come along. No one should ever be coerced or pressurised into attending. All gatherings for ministry must be non-judgmental, open, dignified and respectful.
The Rest home Management will usually have a designated place for religious activities. Some larger facilities have designated Chapels or quiet rooms.
As Lay Preachers we should never forget elderly people in Rest homes were once Active family members; home makers; parents; friends; employer’s; and workers who contributed to making the world we inherit today….. They may be elderly now but they were once young and vital, often with fascinating stories to tell from life experience’s.
By visiting Rest homes we will be seeing people who cannot assemble with the church anymore. In Rest homes we can meet faithful older believers who can share inspiring testimonies about the goodness of their God.
- Supporting the resolution of helplessness, despair and loss;
- Assisting spiritual transitions;
- Waiting alongside people in crisis;
- Helping patients resolve anger, guilt, fear and anxiety;
- Promoting reconciliation in personal relationships and between belief and recommended treatment;
- Offering corporate worship and bringing hope and celebration.
As Lay Preachers it could be worthwhile having an exploratory discussion with the local Hospital Chaplain about being a Volunteer and supporting the chaplaincy, Becoming a Volunteer Chaplaincy Assistant is rewarding public service and there are training programmes available from time to time.
As with Hospital Chaplaincy places of incarceration such as Prisons and Detention Centers place a high value on provision of Chaplaincy services. If you feel called to visit and minister in a local compulsory care facility it is important that you thoroughly explore possibilities firstly with your own Minister and secondly with the particular institutions recognised ecumenical Chaplain. Access to Prisons is strictly controlled and limited to approved persons.
A competent and confident Lay Preacher may find a good starting point is in having a conversation with the NZ Prisoners Aid & Rehabilitation Society which works to reduce offending by providing support and reintegration services to offenders and their family / Whanau Many of the early PARS organisations working with prisoners have strong links to the churches.