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What is pastoral care?
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Question: "What is pastoral care?"
Answer: In its most general sense, pastoral care refers to the ministries/services usually
performed by a pastor. Some denominations of the Christian faith use the phrase to refer to more
specific aspects of a pastors ministry, such as counseling and visitation. The core idea of
pastoral care is that pastors are to care. The word pastor comes from the Latin word for
shepherd. A pastor is to be a shepherd or caretaker of Gods flock. Be shepherds of God's
flock that is under your care, serving as overseersnot because you must, but because you are
willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over
those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock (1 Peter 5:2-3, emphasis added).
Many people have a misunderstanding of what exactly pastors do, thinking that their primary
responsibility is preaching on Sunday. The joke that pastors only work one day a week could not
be further from the truth. Beyond preparing and delivering a sermon, pastors provide biblical
counseling, visit the sick and injured in hospitals, and disciple members of the congregation
through phone calls, lunch meetings, and other social engagements. Many pastors serve as
chaplains in hospitals, the military, workplaces, schools, and prisons. All of these ministries are
aspects of pastoral care.
In reality, pastoral-care ministries are just as valuable as the delivery of a sermon. Caring for a
person who is struggling with a difficulty, being present during a time of pain, praying with
someone in a crisis these are the moments when spiritual breakthroughs occur. Ministering
through a good, biblically sound sermon is absolutely necessary. But ministering through a
personal touch, i.e., pastoral care, is just as important.
There is another meaning of pastoral care that should be mentioned. Recognizing the tremendous
amount of stress and burn-out many pastors experience, there are some ministries which use the
phrase pastoral care to refer to ministry to pastors. Secluded locations where pastors can get
away for a time, counseling ministries to pastors and their families, and even the pastoring of
pastors are aspects of this form of pastoral care. Perhaps the best understanding of pastoral care
is that pastors are to care for us, and we are to care for our pastors.
Recommended Resources: Biblical Eldership by Alexander Strauch and Logos Bible
While he is not the author of every article on, for citation purposes, you
may reference our CEO, S. Michael Houdmann.
Related Topics:
What does the Bible say about the role of senior pastor?
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