Providing emotional and spiritual support for people in their pain, loss and anxiety, as well as in their triumphs, joys and victories.


Pastoral care is the ministry of care and counseling by pastors or religious leaders with a focus on healing, reconciling, guiding and sustaining. This can range anywhere from home visitations to informal counseling. Pastoral care can also be the practice of looking after the personal and social well-being of others. It can encompass a wide variety of issues including health, social and moral education, behavior management and emotional support.

Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.Acts 20:28

Skilled Characteristics

  • Listener

    An active listener

  • Asks Questions

    Initiates conversations and asks people how they are doing

  • Comfortable

    Comfortable with feelings – one’s own and the feelings of others

  • Safe

    Makes people feel comfortable sharing their personal feelings and troubles

  • Affirming

    Accepting and affirming of others

  • Servant

    Attends to other’s needs

  • Empathy

    Responds to people’s needs with interest, patience and compassion

How do you help take care of your staff’s physical, mental, emotional, relational and spiritual needs?

Unskilled Characteristics

  • Impatient

    Impatient with others

  • Uncomfortable

    Uncomfortable talking about feelings or listening to others talk about their feelings

  • Controlling

    High need for control

  • Task Focused

    Overly focused on tasks and getting things done

  • Advice Giver

    Gives solutions when people just need to be listened to

  • Judging

    Evaluates people

  • Not Real

    Re-assures people prematurely or in a non-believable way

As a leader, what can you do to better take care of your staff’s emotional, relational, mental, physical and/or spiritual needs?

Causes of Weakness

  • Personality

    May have a personality type that is not especially well suited to Pastoral Care

  • Personal Issues

    Have unresolved personal issues that first need to be addressed

  • Attention

    Have a short attention span to listen well to people

  • Detached

    Not in touch with own emotions or the emotions of others

  • Fixer

    Is a ‘fixer’ more than a listener

  • Role Models

    Poor role models of pastoral care in the past

Which of these causes describes you in some way?


Review the simple application steps below and choose 1 or 2 things you can do to spur yourself on to further growth.

  • Culture of Care

    Create a culture of care by establishing and promoting team values relating to caring for one another and oneself

  • Care Team

    Depending on the size of your group, you may want to form a pastoral care team. This is a group of people who have a heart to listen to others and meet them in their place of need. You might define roles and responsibiliities for the team such as hospitality, airport pickups, hospital visits, debriefing, 1-on-1 pastoral check-ins, etc.

  • Outside Help

    Find out what kind of pastoral care or ‘member care’ might be available through other Christian workers in your area or nearby. Sometimes people need someone to talk to who is outside of the team. Taking advantage of other ‘member care’ providers in your area to help with annual debriefing or other special issues issues that come up can be very helpful

  • Think Family

    Try thinking of your staff as extended members of your family. Are you truly concerned about their physical, mental, relational, emotional and spiritual health? How would you talk to or help your family members if they were struggling in one of those areas? How often would you ask your family members how they are doing?

  • Listen and Coach

    When people are struggling, they often are most in need of finding someone who will listen to them with compassion and without judging. Instead of trying to solve their problems for them, just listen and repeat back what you hear. Ask them some questions about how they are feeling and what it all might mean to them. Offer to pray for them.

  • Too Serious?

    If a person’s problem seems serious or outside your ability to help them, make sure to help the person find the kind of help they really need. If they need to talk to a trained member care person or counselor, don’t hesitate to recommend that to the person. They may need a vacation, time away from ministry, an extended furlough, ongoing counseling, or to visit family and friends back home. Make sure you make your staff’s overall health a top priority.