PastorCare Training For...
The National Clergy Support Network
by Dr. Bert Moore
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PERSONAL: At first the ministry is personal. Jesus was a man who was very personal with people that He met; the many people who reached out to touch Him; people who asked that they be healed--He was very personal and very real when He walked this earth. How important it is for us to hear, pastors and spouses to hear a live voice on the phone at PastorCare. The wife of the pastor of the little rural church in Louisiana whose first words to me when I picked up the phone one night, she said, “I was praying that I,” and I could hear the brokenness in her voice, “I was praying that I wouldn’t get an answering machine.” Her husband was off to a meeting at the church and they were new to the town, and she did not know who to talk to, and it was safe, you know. She needed a confidential voice...somebody who would listen to her, someone who was safe. So, PastorCare first is Personal.
ACCESSIBLE: Second PastorCare is accessible. We know that our Lord Jesus didn’t move beyond the region of Galilee. He went through Samaria, but that little piece of land, no more than about sixty miles or so at the end of the Mediterranean Sea. So it is with PastorCare. We seek to find PastorCare givers who are easily accessible to any hurting pastor and spouse, near where they live and serve.
Personal, Accessible and then...
PRACTICAL: Jesus was practical. He didn’t just offer a simple little prayer, but a lot of times He would call out to the even the woman who touched Him from the crowd, “Who touched me?” cause He felt the power go out. We who serve at the ministry know how draining it is...how the power goes out of us as we listen to the minister, to the hurting pastors and their spouses. But God blesses and that, and they know it. We are coming along side them. We will be standing there with them in their struggles, in their churches as they seek to lead and serve and follow God’s will.
We seek, in terms of practicality, to walk through the door of need as that caller expresses that need, as an initial opening door, we try to meet, as they articulate that to us. Knowing of course, that there are probably many other needs among these seven categories, and maybe beyond. They may need just money; as we know with Jesus in the wilderness the issues weren’t just bread, they weren’t just power and control, with which Satan tried to lure Jesus, it was the spiritual issues were much more important than the physical issues--which is my biggest concern about the survival of America. It’s not going to be about how the economy goes, or who is in the White House, or how we fix any of the physical needs of the populace, but, how do people respond when the 9-11 comes? When circumstances occur personally or nationally, how will the people respond? If anarchy takes over and they cry for some strong dictator, as happened in Nazi Germany, will they cry out for some pseudo leader, or will they seek the Lord? And will there be enough leaders in our land who will be strong and wise enough to be able to look to God for strength and for wisdom and guidance?
This is one of my biggest concerns for having strong pastors in a nation today, with so much material success at the present time. The neat thing about it is that God always raises up catalysts, unnamed individuals to support pastors, and He is always calling new pastors into the ministry. When I am aware of the reality that we are closing 4,000 churches a year in America, and that the number of pastors has dwindled from over 425,000 down, says Michael Hill, our new interim director, down to 376,000, that the number of people in America who no longer believe in God--it was only like 12% in 1992, of people in America who said they did not believe in God, it’s now up to 27% of people in America who say they do not believe in God at all: who are either agnostics or atheists.
In the manual, the next page there was our first mission page where we talked a little about questions like: Who does a pastor confide in when he doesn’t feel like being a pastor, or where things at home are strained?
I have a Methodist district superintendent in a region that said to me he tells his pastors in his district, “If your marriage is in trouble, or your kids are on drugs, or you are going through a mid-life crisis, don’t tell me, tell PastorCare, because it might affect my appointments next spring.” And, so it goes...
Not only in the Methodist denomination but a leading Episcopal Bishop told me at a conference in Washington DC, with a tear in his eye, he said to me, “Bert, I want you to know at least 40% of our Episcopal priests are demoralize. And when I asked him why that was true, what did he mean by that, he said to me, “All too many of the Episcopal priests today are just marking time till they can get their pension, their comfortable pension and retire comfortably. They have lost the power of God. They have lost the Spirit of the Lord and their passion for ministry, and the challenge of Matthew 28:19 to “make disciples,” and to be teachers and encourage people to live strong in the faith and trust in the Lord.
In that document back there which you can see in the manual, we perform three additional functions, of not only trying to reach out to hurting pastors, we encourage our regional coordinators to go and meet with pastoral groups in the region where they live and serve, to build the trust of those pastors, to want to open up to them as a regional PastorCare coordinator, but also get into church to recruit and call forth the body of Christ, those eleven tribes of caregivers, to care for and be a part of the confidential network of PastorCare. We remind them that we don’t publish a directory, so if they do not want their name published, they can be confidentially in the network as a caregiver to respond to a specific case of need.
The last big piece is the list of training opportunities; it’s in the basic brochure: trying to encourage our regional coordinators to set up training opportunities for people who care about pastors in their regions to come together to have symposium gatherings of people who do care about spiritual leaders in their community.
As I get ready to go into the seven categories, and begin to look at those one on ones specifically, I just wonder if any of you have any questions that you’d like to raise, or you would like to ask about it at this time? For those on the video, I have asked a few friends, and board members and staff to be here and possibly provide some interaction if they would like. Feel free to interrupt me, at any time if you would like.
This has been one of the miracles of this ministry, which is a pure “faith ministry,” the Lord has almost matched the caregivers with the needs throughout the ministry. I remember the president of the American Association of Christian Counselors, Tim Clinton, saying to me, “Bert, this ministry will never last one year.”
And I asked him why? And he said, “Because there is no money in it.”
PastorCare, up to this point, has never had anything to sell, no products, it literally is a pure faith ministry. The Lord has preserved this ministry, not without difficulty and a lot of prayer, right, Phil? Over the years, financially, Phil has watched over the finances of this ministry and it has not been easy, but some way or another, the Lord has sustained us for over ten years, in taking care of hurting pastors and their families.
2:10 TAKING THE CALL
We have included a page in here, as I begin the next section how the PastorCare plan very simply works. We receive at the home office and at the regional office now, on an increasing basis, phone calls from across the nation, and e-mails that come. These are downloaded or the calls are received or referred within the office and we try to respond. If they are for information, we just send out information and do what they say, initially. Sending out brochures, and testimonies of people who have been helped by the ministry, and newsletters and see how the person responds from there. There are people who call in specifically for help and we move directly into that. There are those who call and just want to be a caregiver. They have heard about the ministry and we send them out an application form. A green form that they can pray through this form and fill out the areas in which God has blessed them with gifts and talents.
As we move into the needs, this is a most exciting area. I can say over the ten years that I have served at the desk at PastorCare, as Bill Buck reminds me, who is the secretary for the board of directors, reminds me of the year and a half before the ministry was incorporated, in which many of these people were a part of the advisory committee for testing the waters, testing whether God wanted this to come into being, he said, “We’ve had the blessing of seeing the Lord work in the lives of these men and women of God.”
One of the key things that we ask, at the beginning, with open-ended questions, is about their call to ministry. Some of them you can tell are hurting, but there is fire in that. Some are like Saul before the Lord knocked him off the horse and became Paul, when the Lord confronted him directly. Some of the men may have gone into the ministry under wrong circumstances where they need to drop out for a while and do something else as Paul did when he became a tent maker under Pricilla and Aquilla-- subcontracted under them in Corinth and made tents for sales because they knew the business and he didn’t. So there are times in which pastors need to do that if they are deeply hurting and are not ready to take another church.
We tell the callers, and there is a paper that came out of the Upper Room Training Center in Nashville, TN--and that is still there today. They only limit you to a couple of minutes on their prayer line because that’s all they are set up to do is to deal with prayer, but with their volunteers, they are very heavy into just listening to prayer needs and not really responding in any particular practical way, as we have been called to do in PastorCare.
I have included in there a sheet where listening is the biggest requirement for pastors and counselors in our office across the country. I share with them that since you can think three to four thoughts in the time that the caller is sharing just one, there is that lag time in which you can listen not only to the caller but listen to the Lord for guidance, and be listening for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Listen to the other needs that are unspoken by the pastor or the pastor’s wife that’s calling in, and see how the Lord guides you and things you’ll put on the intake form which I will go through in a moment or two and begin to lean on the Lord.
Sometimes asking other people in the PastorCare office to pray for you as you are dealing with a particularly sensitive and struggling caller. We can’t lean on our own resources and our own cleverness and our own wisdom. All that we have and all that we are comes from the Lord. We have to be that way so He can use us--and they can hear the Lord coming through, speaking to their hearts, and not just another human being on the other line.
Yes, I say to my people, it is very helpful, as it was in my own personal life, to have someone there “with skin on,” as Velveteen Rabbit book so aptly says. And as our Lord did with sending His only begotten Son, the Word becoming “flesh’ and dwelling among us, full of grace and truth, so that we can hear and see the truth in a very visible way and know that the Lord does love us and loves those pastors who are hurting, and they can hear that through us.
But we must be prepared ourselves. Which is why I would say as we begin every morning at PastorCare we begin it with prayer. Every morning before we go to the phones we take time at the PastorCare office to download the calls and pray for people who have called in and emailed the night before and prepare us in the Lord, before we go to the phones to get back to these pastors and spouses.
There are some other helpful pieces; I won’t go into them all. They are in the training manual: in terms of what is the opposite of being a good listener, and some warnings that are given in terms of not making judgments and preaching; giving advice; sharing your own problems and things like that. We talk about those things too, in part of our training time in each office.
As you turn to the page in the manual that has the PastorCare calling form. It is critical to have one of those on your desk for every single call that comes in, or every call that you make to make sure that you have the information correctly on there. The call form looks like this...its divided simply into three sections. Every one of the sections is critical to the ministry. The first section is just basic caller information. Sometimes I have had a pastor in an office, and I won’t mention any names (that person is not here today), pick up the phone and write on the back of an envelope or a piece of paper and forget to get a vital piece of information they are so busy listening to the caller that they forget to ask the caller’s telephone, so we can’t call them back. That has been a real struggle and a hurtful situation in a couple of cases.
By having the form in front of you, section A where you get the name eventually; you don’t have to get it right away but before you hang up you should. As you look back over the form you realize you have not gotten the spouse’s name, because if she answers the phone next time, I want to be able to call her by name and let her know that she is cared for, too. Also get the address, work number, cell phone number, e-mail, fax any of that other information...the church that they serve and the Sunday morning attendance, not the membership of the church but how many are really there on a Sunday morning in that church will give a picture of an accurate support base for that pastor, and it helps to document the human need.
The second section, section B on that caller information form, deals with the type and nature of the call; whether it’s for information (the response will be different), whether it’s to be a caregiver, or for help. There is a space there to begin to describe the situation, or describe the getaway place. Maybe they need a little bit of money to change the sheets and maintain the place, so it can’t be absolutely free to a hurting pastor. Or if it is a person needing help one of the first words that come out of that pastor’s mouth when they answer the phone...write those down on that sheet because they will reveal many times not only through tone, and also the words. Like the lady that said, “I was praying I would not get an answering machine.” You could hear the hurt in her voice. You could hear the loneliness, the isolation of this pastor’s wife just in the very first words on that phone that night. So, we ask you to put down the situation, and then if the Lord is leading you with impressions of other needs of which they are not speaking, you put those down there, too. But put them in parentheses, so that they know it is not a quote from the hurting person, but it is what the Lord is showing you, as the other person now involved in this telephone relationship. I tell people always initial, your name will be at the top, but initial the comments as you as you move down through the in-take form.
And then, lastly, on that form, “Are there specific requests for help or need?” And you are going to be checking heavy the person who says, “I need a getaway right now. I’ve got to get my husband out of this church! He is burnin’ out! I will deal with the specifics on that in a few moments. When you hear that kind of response and it is urgent, you are going to check that section off--getaway! There are going to be some other areas that they are not mentioning. You may have written them up here in the “B” section, but in the “C” section under help or need, you put them in dotted lined “check” which means that you really believe there is a need here, but it hasn’t been dealt with. And you may later, as you check with them, you may ask, “Could you also use some financial support?” CHECK. Then it becomes a heavy check, and not just a little dotted check that you think part of what they need. Because you never know if you are not in the office, as a caregiver caller, whether you’re going to be handling the case maybe the next day, that is all the more reason you need to initial the comments that took place when you were on so that somebody else who comes in will do that with theirs too, when they pick up with that case at a later date.
Are there any other questions about the call-in form? I have gone over it very, very quickly and very briefly in terms of that call-in form, and those of you who are here know that it needs to be on the desk at any time so that that is what you write on to keep an accurate record.
Incidentally, as these records are kept and they go into the secure files at the secure PastorCare files at night--we are out of our own home office following up on well over a thousand Pastors. With a follow up call every six months. Promise Keepers, the Christian men’s organization says we are the only ministry organization they know of that does this across the country, in following up on hurting pastors and their families.
Rev. Keith Glover:
Dr. Moore, you have mentioned the matter of records and keeping about people. I know confidentiality is an issue. How does confidentiality factor into the way you continue and follow-up with people over a period of time?
Keith, it is absolutely critical that confidentiality be maintained in this ministry. I am not saying that we as imperfect human beings don’t have a slip--where a piece of information inadvertently slips in over a phone to someone that shouldn’t hear it, but even in terms of when we call a caregiver, and ask them about whether they can take a case we never mention the pastor’s name or the pastor’s spouse to that caregiver, until they have accepted the responsibility--“Yes, I will be a prayer partner for that lady.” We connect men with men and women with women in that first category. So we will be very confidential not even sharing who the person is, when we talk to a potential caregiver over the phone. If the person says they can’t do it, we go on to somebody else. And then if the person wants to know; if the caregiver says, “I will take the case, are there some things I need to know about this particular hurting pastor or spouse?” in most cases, it is most often safe to say I would rather let the pastor or the pastor’s spouse tell you when you get in contact with them what they want to tell you. So they are starting to build that relationship and the confidentiality between the hurting pastor/spouse and the caregiver, rather than us trying to load the gun with something we may see in the files that maybe the pastor/spouse shared with us in advertently, and would not want to share with anyone else right now--or a caregiver right up front. So, yes, confidentiality! And be very careful about the safety of the person on the line.
I remember a lady, a pastor’s wife whose first words when we talked about a confidential caregiver, said, “Oh, everybody knows my husband within five states.” Obviously there is a bit of paranoia there; I mean, everybody within five states doesn’t know this woman and her husband. But, that is the way she felt. If she felt that way, we had to make sure we got someone outside those five states to be her caregiver. I can remember we got her a caregiver lady from up in Pittsburg, PA, who drove down the river and met this lady at a little restaurant where she felt they were safe and could meet once a week, and later it dwindled down to be once a month, but for a period of time when she was in crisis, boy, they met to pray together and share together and it was beautiful.
We have in the manual a script guide for the PastorCare phone operators. I won’t go through that, but that’s there--a guide to help you when you’re dealing with fresh people. I always say at the end, and them too, since we trust the Lord, to ask Him. Ask for them to give you permission. Don’t just pray with them. Ask them, “We’ve talked a while about these needs, would you like me to pray with you before we connect, or call again?” Encourage them in a lot of ways. Admire their courage to call. If there is any information you would like to have from us, if there are ways that you’d like us to help--sometimes they do. I’ve had them call back in a day or so and say, “I thought of something else.” And if they need to have the 800 line, our unpublished 800 line, because we are not wealthy enough, the board has not yet seen fit to make that public because of the impact. But if they are hurting enough, the board felt that they will make the 919 initial call. But if they are in need, we always say to the guys on the phone, if you need an 800 line you can go ahead and call us any time.
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Dr. Bert Moore, Founder 1900-2000