I used to have a rugby coach who repeated a mantra in training, “There is no ‘I’ in ‘TEAM’”. He did this to get across the idea that we weren’t playing an individual sport, independent of one another. Rather, we’re dependent upon one another’s effort, skills, and sacrifice for our mutual success.
You could say the same thing for St Andrew’s, “There’s no ‘I’ in ‘CHURCH’”. We’re dependent upon one another for our mutual spiritual health and flourishing, especially in the area of pastoral care. Pastoral care is not delegated solely to a few select individuals.
So how do we do this at St Andrew’s? There are at least three areas in which we seek to provide pastoral care for one another.
First, our Growth Groups are the main context for pastoral care. Care happens best in established relationships. These small groups are where we can get to know one another deeply, to spend time with each other, study God’s word together, and pray for one another’s needs.
Normally in these groups people will connect to a few people more closely. Over time, they’ll feel more comfortable in sharing personal joys and achievements, struggles and sins. Practical care can be provided more directly and effectively during times of acute difficulty.
Secondly, St Andrew’s also provides practical care through our ‘CARE Fund’ (Community Aid Relief and Emergency). This fund exists to provide financial support for church members going through challenging times or crisis. This fund is also used to give support to asylum seekers and refugees.
How can people access these funds? Applications are handled confidentially by a small committee of staff and lay leaders. At first instance, you can contact one of our pastoral staff. Church members are also welcome to donate to this fund as a practical way of caring for others and supporting the work of the gospel.
Thirdly, pastoral staff are setting up support groups for church members going through more acute difficulties. These difficulties include bereavement, divorce, and addiction, which are beyond the ability of Growth Groups to provide appropriate care. And as always, our pastoral staff are always available to meet individually with church members in need of care.
A final encouragement. Sometimes our tendency when in difficulty is not to seek help but to suffer quietly. If you are in need, I encourage you to reach out to the church family for support.