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Pastoral Care

As a society, we resist talking about what is an absolute for all of us: We will someday die. It’s time we have conversations with our loved ones about our deaths and our wishes for end-of-life care. […] Read More

Being a pastor is much more than being a preacher. In fact, many of the most influential pastors in my life have been average preachers, but extraordinary pastors. And many of the great conference speakers who have encouraged me with their insightful and entertaining perspectives wouldn’t last very long as pastor of a local church. […] Read More

Grieving is part of the cost of loving and takes time. It is generally reckoned that the grieving process can take anywhere between two to five years, and in some cases even longer. Clearly, the latter part of the grieving process will not be as acute as the first few months. But thank God, time […] Read More

Nurses deserve our utmost gratitude as they literally keep us alive physically, in addition to meeting our social, emotional and spiritual needs. May 12 is International Nurses Day, and I want to celebrate the work of nurses by offering a theological reflection on this vocation. As a hospital chaplain, I have the opportunity to observe […] Read More

How do grieving people hear well-intentioned platitudes that are shared with them? That was the subject of an article that I shared on Facebook titled, “What You Say to Someone Who’s Grieving vs. What They Hear.” While I liked what it had to say about how our well-meaning words can actually be hurtful, some of […] Read More

People still ask me why I became a minister after a long career as a university teacher and administrator. Some of them graciously acknowledge that I was doing ministry even when my job title was “professor” or “dean.” Here’s the story of why I became a “different” kind of minister. The year was 1979. I […] Read More

‘Being Mortal’

With the advent of the DVD, moviemakers have offered viewers the option to watch alternate endings of their favorite movies. A “director’s cut” lets us choose one ending over another, according to our preferences. Atul Gawande’s book, “Being Mortal,” allows individuals in declining health or with a terminal illness to consider alternate endings to their […] Read More

Caring for others is a habit to be learned. One of the hardest classes I took in seminary was not theology, philosophy, Hebrew or Greek. It was pastoral care. The aim of pastoral care is to teach students how to listen, confront conflict, counsel and give referrals, and have empathy. In short, the class is a crash-course […] Read More

Poverty. Unemployment. Homelessness. Poorly funded school systems. Crime. Alcohol and drug abuse.  Lack of access to quality health care. Transportation problems. Mental and physical illness. Family breakdown. Teen pregnancy. Cultural diversity and racial tension. Poor infrastructure. Factory and industry closings. Shifting economic centers. Suburban flight and urban gentrification. Continual and rapid transition. Chaos.  These are some of the challenges faced by individuals and […] Read More

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the theology and practice of pastoral care in a missional church, and how that is different from pastoral care in traditional churches. And I’ve come up with at least a few questions if not fully formed answers. Here are some of my thoughts:   Missional theology and praxis […] Read More