A question that arises from the first week in an intensive CPE program this summer.
You walk into a hospital room. You meet a man you’ve never seen before and will never see again — in all likelihood — when he leaves the hospital. You are on the staff of the hospital chaplain’s office.
What is your purpose in this encounter? What is your goal? How do you know if you did a good job?
I am quickly discovering in CPE how much of my ministry is tied to the congregation in which it happens. Pastoral care and visiting when it is with people who are connected in some way to the church I serve has a logic to it and purpose that I understand. It is one more facet of an overall ministry with and among a people. It is shaped in important ways by the fact that we worship together. And even when it is with people who do not worship with us, it is shaped by the potential that we may one day share such a community. It is pastoral care that defines care in terms of helping people enter into right relationship with God through Jesus Christ.
I find visiting as a chaplain to share little with pastoral visits among my congregations. Perhaps this is a sign that my congregational visits are problematic in some way. Maybe I have not been at CPE long enough yet to see what remains obscure to me.
I wonder how others have experienced this.