Model for Pastoral Care by Elders?


I am the chair of the pastoral elders in a Southwest Ontario CRC. 

For a variety of reasons, we are considering alternative models of delivering pastoral care in our congregation. We currently are operating with a pretty standard model in which our membership is divided into "Focus Groups" each under the care of a pastoral elder supported by a pastoral care worker and a deacon. 

While this has worked more or less effectively, we are experiencing some challenges, among which we have a hard time finding people willing to take on the role of elder due in part to the work load and feeling of responsibility. I'm sure we are not the first church to face this one so am asking if there are other models out there or if there is a conversation about this in the CRCNA into which I could link.  

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I would recommend trying to get in touch with the council at Willowdale CRC in North York. When I served there, there was a group of people who provided Pastoral Care that were separate from the Elders but often included current or former Elders. It's been a few years though, so the model may have changed since I was there.

At First CRC in Fremont, we recently restructured our Council and shifted pastoral care to a group of lay leaders.  The Council is still responsible for pastoral care with one elder and one deacon specifically responsible for checking in with the Care Coordinators and also providing care themselves.  As pastor, I am also responsible for pastoral care and visit people regularly.  If you want to discuss more, my email is [email protected].

    Thank you for reaching out. I appreciate you and your elders working to revitalize eldership in your church. My congregation is engaged in a similar process. We are using Jeramie Rinne's excellent, short, book on church elders, entitled, Church Elders: How to Shepherd God's People Like Jesus. The book has helped us to realize that we may need to change both our elder's term limits and the process by which our congregation goes about selecting people to serve as elders. 
    For what it's worth, I would not recommend that your elders delegate away the pastoral care of the congregation (at least, not in its entirety) to the deacons or to a lay group. I believe that the Scriptures are sufficiently clear that pastoral care is the primary responsibility of the elders (see, Acts 20:28-31; Eph. 4:11; 1 Pet. 5:1-4). An 'elder' who never engages in pastoral care is like a 'plumber' who doesn't works on pipes or an 'electrician' who never works with electricity.  

Thanks to all of you who replied.  We will be taking this up in our church and I will likely get back to at least some of you for follow up.  Blessings.  Leo