“You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but has taught you publicly and from house to house” (Acts. 20:20, NIV).
Christian visitation is conducted with the understanding that the church as the body of Christ is a family, and the local church is the basis on which the values of the family are developed and espoused. This should inform us that “the local church has always been the focus of church growth because that is where church members meet for fellowship, training, and deployment for ministry” (Denteh, 2021).
Thus, the need for godly fellowship, care for one another, the bearing of one another’s burdens, and the genuine expression of brotherly love in Christ must always be a hallmark of the local church. Visitation in the local church is a model of pastoral care ministry that takes place in the local church. It is one of the most important and expressive ways the church offers care and compassion to people in real-life situation. The purpose is to look for persons who are unable to attend church services or fellowships due to old age, health challenges, or facing various kinds of challenges that may require the attention of others. This could be among church members, local leaders, and other leaders of the church.
1.1 What is Christian Visitation?
Considering the fact that we are shepherds of God’s flock, the Bible enjoins us to “keep watch” and to “take care” of them but we should bear in mind that one key ministry that flows out of shepherding is visitation.
“Visitation is an intentional direct encounter by an individual with another person or persons for the purpose of getting to know them, understanding and addressing their felt needs, providing encouragement and assistance in the name of Jesus, and expressing through words or deeds the constant love and care of God” (Gakpetor 2013:5).
The above definition gives much insight into the discussion. We can glean from it that Christian visitation is more than going to the homes and places of work of our church members. While that is good and part of our discussion, it is good to note that the visitation ministry is about making a conscious effort to have a direct encounter with another person or group of persons with the view of fellowshipping with them and offering them the needed care, where possible.
Visitation has always been a crucial practice in Christianity. There is a perfect example in the apostle Paul’s ministry of how he conducted house-to-house activities as one of his models of visitation to the believers in the early church: “You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but has taught you publicly and from house to house” (Ac. 20:20, NIV).
1.2 The Two Forms of Christian Visitation
We shall attempt to discuss two-pronged approach – vertical and horizontal visitation because every Christian is by calling his brother’s keeper. While the presentation brings our attention to the importance of church leaders, generally perceived as the shepherds of God’s flock, to visit their members (vertical or top-down approach) as a way of pastoral care, it is equally important to understand the fact that church members also form the nucleus of the pastoral care ministry. They are to be equipped to be able to visit one another (the horizontal approach) for fellowship.
Christians must clearly grasp the fact that the love of Christ is the basis of our pastoral care ministry of which visitation is a part. Kenyon (2010:15) puts it well: “The love of Christ must dominate the actions of every person who” professes to be His disciple, “from the foremost Christian leader to the quietly working but unnoticed layman” in the church.
2. THE LOCUS OF VISITATION IN THE LOCAL CHURCH
In the Old Testament, God is displeased with the priests and leaders of Israel for neglecting His flock and that shows how important pastoral care is considered in ministry. His reaction is contained in the following passage:
“Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture!’ says the Lord. Therefore, thus says the Lord God of Israel against the shepherds who feed My people: ‘You have scattered My flock, driven them away, and not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for the evil of your doings,’ says the Lord” (Jeremiah 23:1, 2, NKJV).
Negligence of the pastoral care will incur the displeasure of God since all are duty-bound to carry out that aspect of divine obligation. This informs us of the importance of fostering visitation in the church, particularly the local church where church members are fundamentally accounted for.
3.0 THE CONCEPT OF VISITATION
The concept and principles of visitation are visible in the ministry of the early church, and it can be well understood as a practice under pastoral care ministry rather than a theological exposition. What transpires in visitation, whether house to house or wherever the visitation takes place, it must be godly in nature and devoid of pursuing any rebellious behaviour against God’s church or a group of people. In the case of the leaders in the local church, they are to shepherd the flock.
Shepherding in this sense entails feeding the flock, protecting them, praying with them, and admonishing them with the scriptures. The apostle Paul, shedding light on this issue indicates, “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood” (Ac. 20:28, NIV).
4. THE ETHOS OF CHRISTIAN VISITATION
Biblically, God’s intimate relationship with humans is a perfect example of visitation in the church. The Bible is replete with various occasions in which God himself visited His people. A typical example is God’s encounter with Adam and Eve following their disobedience to His Word when they ate the forbidden fruit. As a normal practice, God would have summoned Adam and his wife to a meeting somewhere for questioning, but He rather visited them in the garden which could be described as their home or place of work. The Bible says, “Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden” (Gen. 3:8, NIV).
It tells us about how concerned God was with His children and his readiness to visit them from time to time and under any circumstances. The scenario point to the fact that visitation in the church is crucial for not only the purposes of fellowship but also for the stabilization and unity of the members in the local church that inure to effective disciple-making and rapid growth of the church.
Pastors and church leaders must learn this principle and always be ready to stay connected with the people so that they can identify themselves with the needs of their flock and help them to solve those challenges.
5. THE REDEMPTION PLAN OF GOD: A MODEL OF HIS VISITATION TO THE KOSMOS
The whole concept of the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ as a motif of God’s redemptive plan for the kosmos (or world) is fundamentally in consonance with the ministry of visitation. Jesus visited the world with His message of salvation. As it happened in the Garden of Eden when God himself visited Adam and Eve during the Fall, ostensibly to rebuke them for repentance, so it happened when the appointed time reached for Him to save the world from its sinful nature (Gal. 4:4). Instead of finding a different approach by causing the world to repent of their sins, He sent His only begotten Son to the world to “visit humanity on earth” with the message of salvation to humankind (Jn. 3:16).
5.1 The Purpose of the “Immanuel”
Isaiah prophesies about the coming Messiah to be called “Immanuel” (Isa. 7:4) which is also corroborated by Matthew in the New Testament. The term Immanuel, which means “God with us” is very significant in God’s redemptive plan for His creation and a perfect example of our charge to be good shepherds in the church. The inference from the term Immanuel implies Jesus’ permanent presence among His people, the church. The idea is that everything about the ministry of God requires an intimate relationship or special encounter with Him. His presence with us as our Saviour serves as a model of ministry for Christians to foster a constant relationship with one another as one family in Christ.
5.2 Jesus’ Approach to Visitation
Jesus had a unique approach to visitation during His earthly ministry. Luke indicates that Jesus left a synagogue to visit Peter’s mother-in-law who was sick and prayed for her (Luke 4:38-40). This approach of Jesus Christ is a perfect example of the importance of visitation in the local church where even Christ himself had to leave a synagogue to attend to a sick member. In which way do we also attend to one another in critical situations?
Even those of us who serve in God’s Kingdom as pastors, church officers and those with specific roles in the local church, do we have time for our church members with varied social backgrounds just as Jesus did? What type of pastoral care do we provide for new converts and newcomers in the church? Are we able to deal with people one-on-one, admonish them and pray with them in critical moments of their lives? The answers we give to these questions would determine the kind of pastoral care ministry we exhibit in the church.
6. THE EARLY CHURCH PERSPECTIVE ON VISITATION IN THE LOCAL CHURCH
The life and ministry of Jesus is our model of doing ministry. We must take after Him as His disciples (Jn. 13:34; Phil. 2:3-8; 1 Pet. 2:21). During His earthly ministry, Jesus ministered to corporate bodies, fed multitudes, and fellowshipped with multitudes. In the same way, He ministered to individuals and transformed their lives. He visited Jairus’ home on his request for healing his sick daughter (Lk. 8:41,42), and Mary and Martha (Lk. 10:38-42).
Another useful example is the story about Jesus’ encounter with Zacchaeus. He ministered to Zacchaeus at his home leading the latter to make a genuine and true confession of his sin. Jesus could have spoken to Zacchaeus during his encounter with him at the Sycamore tree by the road and left him alone to make his own decision. Nonetheless, He visited him in his home (Lk. 19:5, ESV). Jesus wanted to have a good personal relationship with Zacchaeus so that He would interact with him very well for his total transformation.
The result of Jesus’ visitation to Zacchaeus’ home was genuine repentance, otherwise, he might have remained in his ungodliness if Jesus were to leave him without a deeper encounter with him at his home. Zacchaeus’ statement is evidence of the genuineness of his repentance when he said, “…Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now, I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount” (Lk. 19:8, NIV). The love and care extended to him by Jesus Christ when He visited his home made him so open to Jesus that he could no longer harbour any ungodly attitude or treasure in secrecy before his Saviour and Lord.
6.1 The Good Shepherd Model
Jesus gives us a model of good shepherding and that understanding will help Christians not to neglect visitation. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep…. ‘I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd (Jn. 10:11, 14-16, NIV).
7. CHARACTERISTICS OF THE CHURCH OF PENTECOST’S LOCAL CHURCH
The expectation of our discussion is to intentionally promote visitation in the local assembly because the local church is the backbone of The Church of Pentecost (CoP) system. The CoP is a locally based church, and more attention is given to building the local assembly as the basis of church growth. The local church is defined in the context of its membership; the healthier it is, the stronger the mother church becomes.
What then is the nature of the CoP local assembly? Article 24 of the constitution1 of The Church of Pentecost (CoP) sub-sections (1 & 2) talks about membership of the Church and how they are categorised into adults and children.
Article 24 (1.1) states: “Any member who is thirteen (13) years or more and who has accepted the Lord as his/her Lord and personal Saviour and is baptised into The Church becomes an adult member.”
Article 24 (1.2) also notes: “Children who are below (13) years of age and have been dedicated by a minister of The Church becomes members.”
The above sub-sections state the conditions associated with each category of membership. The emphasis, however, is that membership in the CoP begins at the local assembly. Fundamentally, the membership of every person in the CoP, whether an apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, teacher, and officer, starts in the local assembly. Without belonging to a defined local assembly, one cannot claim to be a member of the Church. Even if a person is leaving one local assembly to another, it is the local assembly that initiates his transfer card from the local assembly and not necessarily the district, area, or national office. It is from the local assembly that leaders are selected for the work of ministry at the next level or for higher callings and appointments.
7.1 Works of Ministry at the Local Assembly
The collection of local assemblies forms a district and that is where a major aspect of the assessment of the Church’s performance is done. The performance indicators of the CoP are evangelism, water baptism, Holy Spirit baptism, children’s dedication, home cell and Bible study, number of communicants, tithes, mission offering, etc. These are factors of growth of the CoP and most of the people who work directly on these performance indicators are in the local assembly leadership structure. The local assembly is so vital in the Church that it is where people are prepared for marriage and marriages are blessed. Most of the counselling ministry services for the church members take place in the local assembly. It is also where some of the immediate needs of the church members are addressed.
Therefore, the local assembly can be termed as the “equipping centre”. The Chairman of the Church, Apostle Eric Nyamekye, says that the local assembly “is the breeding grounds for raising godly men and women who are willing to apply Kingdom principles and values to bring transformation to their respective societies.”2 It is a training and equipping centre for members and officers of the Church.
Here, they are trained and nurtured in the word of God to be kingdom-minded people who can possess their spheres of life with Kingdom values and principles. Critical discipleship work takes place in the local assembly. This makes the local assembly crucial in the entire system of governance in the CoP. Therefore, the diagram below shows the structure at the local assembly to ensure effective administration in the church.
8. TYPES OF CHRISTIAN VISITATIONS
- Routine Visitation: This includes every member of the church and in this case, church members see visitation as part of their Christian responsibility and embark on it from time to time. The visitation team regularly visits the members not necessarily because they are facing problems but as a way of fulfilling their calling as good shepherds. For example, inactive members are to be visited routinely until they are fully restored.
- Emergency or Circumstantial Visitation: This type of visitation is embarked upon as a response to an emergency situation or a sudden circumstance confronting a church member or a local church. In this case, the visit to a specific group of persons or an individual may not be originally planned. Rather, it is driven by a circumstance with its exigencies that would at times necessitate a visit for admonishing, counselling, support, and prayers. For example, when there is an accident or disaster, or those with bad news such as bereavement, loss of property, and confronted with a serious problem may need our visit and encouragement. The victims will expect a visit from their fellow church members and the leaders of the church.
It is biblical to “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn,” (Rom. 12:15, NIV) just to keep a healthy relationship among us as a family in the body of Christ.
- Scheduled Visitation: This is a structured visitation programme by the visiting person(s) where a special schedule is given to the local church or individuals within a stipulated period. In this kind of visitation, both the visiting officer and the person being visited are aware of the schedule and prepare for it. The visiting person(s) may be the leadership of the church visiting a local church, specific members, or a person. This could also be a corporate or personal visitation schedule. The visitation programme must be very clear and well-articulated to be able to deepen the spirituality of the people and strengthen their faith in the Lord. Church leaders and visitation teams must have their visitation calendar well organized to make this all-important pastoral care ministry a standard and formal one.
9. AREAS OF VISITATION
- Home and Family Visitation: This is where church members are visited at their homes and places of abode. This may include visiting new converts (follow up), members backsliding, elderly and sick people, bereaved families, newly wedded couples, newly “delivered” persons, church leaders, wherever they find themselves.
- Visitation to Places of Work: This is a visitation to church members at their places of work, where applicable. Some people prefer visiting their places of work to their homes.
- Visitation to Learning Institutions: Where people spend much of their time acquiring knowledge, gaining skills, or receiving education becomes their learning institution. In our commitment to enhancing visitation in the local church, church leaders and visitation teams are to factor in their schedule to visit church members in their learning institutions, where applicable.
- Action Point Visitation (APV): This kind of visitation summarises all the models of visitation being discussed, and it is mostly carried out in a local church, particularly by church leaders. By action point, we mean the exact place (the local assembly) where most of the events in the church occur. It could also be considered as where a particular situation occurs with the church members. When leaders visit church members (God’s flock) at their places of worship they feel loved and cared for. In the same way, when church members are visited wherever they are located within their community, they feel loved.
8.1 Reciprocity of Visitation
Since visitation is part of caring for our neighbour, two principles should guide us as Christians. One is the “Golden Rule” which enjoins Christians to love their neighbour as themselves (Mk. 12:31). We are our neighbour’s keeper (Gal. 6:2) and that must be an embedded principle of our visitation ministry. In Galatians 6:2, we are enjoined to bear the burden of one another. When we are able to practice the principle of reciprocity regarding visitation and care for one another, the unity and bond in Christian fellowship will always be enhanced.
The second point is premised on the practices of the CoP which encourages church members to treat their pastors as their personal friends. The backdrop of making someone a friend is to care for the person and always be ready to love him or her as yourself. Church leaders also need care from their members. They need the visit of the church members and prayer support as evidenced in the request of the apostle Paul in Ephesians 6:19, 20; Colossians 4:3. Paul was quite aware that church leaders are not immune to challenges and that was the premise of his prayer request for our leaders.
The role of pastors and church leaders can be a very challenging task. At times, they are also confronted with personal challenges that would require support and encouragement from the church members. As leaders, who are held to a high standard in the church and society, they find it difficult to share their challenges with other people but our visit to them for fellowship could reassure them of belonging to the big family of Christ just as they do for us when we are facing challenges. The conclusion is that Christian visitation is reciprocal as long as we understand that it flows out of godly love by carrying one another’s burden.
9. THE ETHICAL DILEMMA OF VISITATION IN THE LOCAL CHURCH
The ethical dimension of Christian visitation must be observed at all times. While on its peripheral value visitation sounds like a simple practice, it can be a delicate and complex exercise with various ethical issues. Visitation is part of pastoral care ministry but responding to this important call should be guided by a high sense of Christian ethics. The complexity in the exercise can be gleaned from Bryant, Lyons, Wasik’s assertion (1990:1992), “Visiting people in their homes to help potentially change their lives will inevitably create ethical dilemmas, regardless of the main focus of the visiting programme or the type of clients.” To avoid ethical dilemmas in visitation, the following may be considered in the context of a given culture within which pastoral care visitation takes place:
- Advance Notice: It is not best to always visit people with very short notice or without notice at all. To avoid “ambushing” them by our visit, it is best to schedule the visit with some specific individuals or groups of people in general situations.
- Confidentiality: it is always likely that the person being visited would repose his trust in the visitor as a brother or sister in Christ and share his confidential issues with him or her. Doehring (2015: xv) says, “The more people trust pastoral caregivers, the more they will entrust them with the bits and pieces of their stories.” When this happens, the visitor should know the information to restrain without sharing with any person and those to share with others for the purposes of prayer support and other involvement by the body of believers. In all these, the visitor should be discreet about the way they present the information concerning the person they visited. Bearing this in mind would increase the level of trust in the church.
- Boundaries and Parameters: The Christian visitor must always identify his or her boundaries around the person he visits in the light of Christian values and etiquette. Godliness must be a watchword in every facet of our visitation. Thus, everything that transpires there must conform to the values and principles of God’s Kingdom.
- Caution in Dealing with the Opposite Sex: It is always advisable to visit the opposite sex in the company of another Christian brother or sister or even, if possible, with a group of them.
- Dealing with those with Social Needs: Another area is dealing with diverse social needs. Those who embark on visitation face various challenges relating to the extent to which they are to address the social needs of persons they visit in the church. it is appropriate to make the purpose of the visit very clear right from the outset. For the visitor to offer any material assistance, it should be left to his discretion vis-a-vis the nature of the situation with the person or group of people being visited. This is very important to avoid persons we visit utterly disappointed.
Church leaders and members should be intentional about this and identify them to avoid any unpleasant situation. If ethical issues have no definite answers and proper use of discretion in addressing situations, then it is good to reiterate our earlier assertion that training on visitation should be an integral part of our discipleship programmes in the local church.
9.1 The Benefits of Visitation in the Local Church
- Deepens love in the church and makes members feel a sense of belongingness. The biblical principle enjoining us to love our neighbour as ourselves, particularly when we are in a desperate situation (2 Cor. 5:14).
- Promotes unity among church members in fellowship in the body of Christ and enhances the spirituality of the local church (Ps. 133:1-3; Acts 4:32).
- Enhances the bond of trust and respect for one another in the church, where every person must know that he or she is called to be his brother’s keeper (Gal. 6:2).
- Promotes genuine interpersonal relationships in the church.
- Extends the pastoral care ministry to the doorsteps of church members (2 Thess. 5:11-13). Caring for others is a way of expressing one of the greatest virtues of God, love. The Bible says, “He who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 Jn. 4:8, NKJV), (1 Jn. 4:16, NIV). Jesus himself demonstrated a greater love (Jn. 15:13, cf. Rom. 5:8; Eph. 2:4).
- Makes church leaders understand the life situation of their members better. The Prophet Elisha’s visit to the Shunammite woman afforded him an opportunity to know that she was childless (2 Kgs. 4:8-17). This can help church leaders in their preparation of sermons and teachings to address the real-life challenges facing the church members. The apostle Paul was able to write letters to address every local church because he was familiar with the situations confronting them.
- Lonely church members such as elderly persons, persons with disabilities, the sick, widows, and orphans feel a sense of belonging to the larger Christian community when they are visited (Mark 1:40-45).
- Helps to minimize backsliding and restore lost souls to Christ (Gal. 6:1-2; James 5:19-20).
- It provides a basis for sampling church members’ views and reactions about the development of the church in their locality as some of them may feel free to interact with church leadership and share their views in a godly manner.
- Makes church leadership identify the real needs of church members or challenges facing them for possible support (Jas. 1:26-27).
- Brings church members closer to their leaders and fosters growth in the local church (John 4:28-29; 39).
- Minimizes agitations and murmuring among church members and promotes a Christ-like attitude in the local church.
- Enhances loyalty in the church as the church members know that their leaders care for them and increase support for one another.
9.2 Challenges to Visitation in the Local Church
- Lack of intentionality in planning and carrying out visitations to members.
- Pastors are increasingly becoming reluctant in visiting their church members. At times, a few who practice visitation also do so selectively. That is, only a few members in a specific social class benefit from the visitation. Some pastors do not even visit their church officers so also some church officers likewise do not visit their pastors, a situation that indicates a complete breakdown of the visitation ministry in the local church.
- Lack of budgetary for the visitation ministry is a challenge some of the members or leaders who are interested in visiting their members also face challenges of transportation to the places of members who live far away from the church premises.
- The absence of visitation teams and pastoral care units at the Local level poses a challenge especially when it comes to visiting members of the opposite sex by individuals who are passionate about the ministry.
- The absence of a visitation day at the local level is a major challenge to visitation. Local presbytery involvement in visitation activities is declining.
- The limitation of access to the homes of members is also a challenge. There are members whose circumstances make visiting them at home virtually impossible. Such members may be visited at work or school where applicable.
- Over-crowded programs at the local level still pose a challenge to the visitation of members. For example, crowded weekend social activities leave little room for visitation in the local church.
- Economic challenges and pressure of work have made church leaders so busy that they are unable to visit their members regularly. This same situation also affects church members as some of them are almost always unavailable for a visit.
- Inadequate intentional teachings on the subject of fellowship and visitation in the local church.
- The leadership of some local churches is overwhelmed by the numbers under their care; hence they are not able to visit all of them.
10. RECOMMENDATION ON LOCAL CHURCH VISITATION
- Formation of Local Visitation Team: The best approach is to form visitation teams and assigned them to specific areas of the community. The district minister should be part of the district visitation team while the presiding elder and his wife are to be part of the local team. Basically, the pastor’s responsibility is to guide the flock and feed them with the right pasture.
- Intentional Follow-Up Teams: Every local church should form follow-up teams to be intentionally trained and unleashed with the core mandate to track the movement of church members and visit them. They are to combine all aspects of visitation models discussed in this presentation and be resourced enough to do their work with ease, but professionally.
- The Local Presbytery Involvement: The local presbytery should also have their visitation schedule to intentionally visit their church members. This could be monthly, quarterly, or termly as a way of fulfilling their pastoral care ministry.
- The Virtual Church and Visitation: The virtual world is also a community comprising people. The use of digital technology has become a critical component of contemporary ministry. Whatever applies to in-person activities in the church could also be extended to the use of digital technology. Sending text messages, WhatsApp, emails, zoom video conferencing, and using any kind of digital technology to reach out to church members is a very effective way of visitation in the virtual space.
- Home Visitation Schedule and Guide: A structured home visitation schedule and a guide can be provided by the National Discipleship and Leadership Development Committee (NDLDC) for the local assemblies by the church, to add more impetus to our pastoral care ministry. This official aspect of visitation could be made once a month, quarterly or termly per annum depending on the dynamics of the local context within which the exercise is carried out. The bottom line, however, is that there is an assurance that local assembly visitation is carried out in a systematic way across all levels of the church in the nation. This does not cancel other forms of visitation in the local church. Local churches may have their own local arrangements.
- Home Cells and Bible Study Groups: These groups are already in the church, and they are considered part of our pastoral care ministry. They are to be intentionally trained and encouraged to visit members in their group since that is more accessible and applicable than visiting the entire congregation in the case of mega churches. The squad formation groups also play into this as our pastoral care units.
- Provision of Resources: Visitation is a ministry under the pastoral care and the church should have adequate resources in terms of human, finance, and logistics to make the visitation ministry vibrant and effective. The distances of church members and the uniqueness of the needs of the persons being visited may be considered during the budgeting stage.
- Systematic Visitation Training: The systematic visitation training programme should be included in our home cell and Bible study materials. The training must include the ethical dimension of visitation to prepare members to follow the principles and values of God’s Kingdom.
- Systematic Pastoral Care Ministry: Ineffective pastoral care is a major challenge affecting Christianity today due to various factors confronting society. It is, therefore, recommended that the church should establish a systematic pastoral care ministry bearing in mind that every person by nature needs someone to care for him or her in one form or another.
It has been demonstrated in this presentation that, the church is a family that must live together in Christ with members exhibiting genuine love and care towards each other and godly fellowship among themselves. The church is likely to lose some of its members if visitation in the local assembly is relegated to the background. It is incumbent on all church leaders to make Christian visitation in the local assembly a critical issue to strengthen the fellowship among the brethren.
To make this happen, effective pastoral care ministry must be ensured in the local church because that is where the nucleus of the church’s membership is formed. It is a place where church members are fed with God’s Word, disciples of Christ are made, members are visited, and serves as an equipping centre of the saints in Christ. The onus, therefore, lies on every local assembly to build effective pastoral care systems.
We have also realized that every Christian is by calling a shepherd of God’s flock and that visitation is a crucial aspect of the pastoral care ministry by all members of the church. Every person in the church must nurture the desire to visit other persons just as he may want others to do unto him bearing in mind that Jesus enjoins Christians to do unto others as we may want them to do unto us.
Finally, the Bible enjoins us to “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn” (Rom. 12:15, NIV). Christians must always be intentional in putting this biblical principle into practice in a real-life situation. When members of the local assembly handle the welfare issues of their colleagues from their perspective, our relationship as a family in the Lord will be solid.
Bryant D Lyons C, Wasik BH, and Porter F 1990. Ethical Issues Involved in Home Visiting. Graham Child Development Center. TECSE 10(4), 92-107.
Denteh VA 2021. Revitalising Mission and Missiology: The Way forward in the Twenty-first Century. Accra, Ghana: Pentecost Press Limited.
Doehring C 2016. The Practice of Pastoral Care. Revised and expanded. A Postmodern Approach. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press.
Fernandes E . The Church as the Family of God: Understanding the Mission of the Church. Accessed from https://catholicaoc.org/news/bol-article/the-church-as-the-family-of-god, 2022-09-21.
Fennema EC 1998. On Doing Home Visitation. Extracted from Ordained Servant vol. 7, no. 2 (Apr. 1998), pp. 32-34. Accessed from On Doing Home Visitation (opc.org), 2022-09-19.
Gakpetor S 2013. Evangelism, Follow Up, and Visitation through the Cell Ministry. Takoradi.
Helsel PB 2019. Pastoral Care and Counseling: An Introduction. Care for Stories, Systems, and Selves. Mahwah, New York: Paulist Press.
Heward-Mills D 2001. Transform your Pastoral Ministry. Parchment House.
Gray M and Gibbons J 2019. Ethical Considerations for Home Visiting. Access from Ethical Considerations for Home Visiting | ECLKC (hhs.gov), 2022-09-19.
Patton J 2005. Pastoral Care: An Essential Guide. USA: Abington Press.
Petersen BL 2013. Foundations of Pastoral Care. Kansas City, USA: Beacon Hill Press.
Pipkin W (ed.) 1984. The Shepherd: Who is the True Pastor (1523) by Ulrich Zwingli. Vol. 2; Pittsburgh: Pickwick Publications. Accessed from Sermon-Zwingli-The-Shepherd.pdf (reverendluther.org), 2022-09-19.
White P 1998. The Effective Pastor. The Key things a Minister must Learn to be. Kaduna, Nigeria: Evangel Publishers Ltd.
Willis DE 2019. Calvin’s Theology of Pastoral Care. Access from Calvin’s Theology of Pastoral Care (theologymatters.com), 2022-09-22.