Visiting the sick and shut-ins is one way to love Christ because it is one way to love other members of His body and sow seeds of the gospel to those who are not. Perhaps this way of serving is new to you. You might be encouraged by the first post in this series. It deals with impediments to visitation. Future posts will offer some ideas on conversation. For now, perhaps you would like to visit a sick, handicapped, aged, or otherwise impaired member of your church but you’re just not sure how to go about it. Try this simple approach.
Pray. For God to be pleased, your service to the Lord must be dependent upon the Spirit, not on yourself. Therefore, in your morning devotion time, pray for the person and yourself. On the drive to the location, pray.
If you wish, call the hospital to confirm visiting hours and that the patient may have visitors. You may learn that the person has been released already.
Think of one or two conversation starters that would lead to ministering to the person’s heart. This provides you direction and confidence even if, when you arrive, you assess that the situation requires a complete shift of direction. You want one question to ask or one SHORT encouragement or verse to share. If it doesn’t fit this visit, it might in another. Here are a couple of ideas:
- Are you struggling with something for which I might pray?
- How have you seen God at work in your situation?
- May I tell you a Bible verse about God’s love for you?
Entering the room, introduce yourself.
Begin with sympathy and understanding. Ask about the sick person. What is her condition? What kinds of treatment is she receiving?
Ask about person’s family. Where do they live? Are they able to visit? Show interest in her situation and consideration of others involved.
Turn the conversation to minister according to the spiritual need. Since conversations can take a course of their own that never arrives at spiritual things don’t wait long before getting to the spiritual topic. You can discuss other topics after the spiritual ministry if you deduce that it’s appropriate to stay longer.
Ask how you can pray for her. Just this question may lead to more discussion on spiritual matters.
Pray with the person.
If appropriate to stay longer, enjoy conversation but keep it short. Sick people tire easily.
Be sensitive to the needs of others. Relax and be yourself. Minister grace.
Tip: You might find it helpful to carry 3×5 cards with you. If the patient is not available or is asleep you can write a note of encouragement on a blank card and leave it where she can simply look at it. Or, you might pre-print a verse (large print) on a card and then use the card to start a conversation about the verse, then leave the card with the sick one.
On the way home, pray for the person and others involved–family, church members, medical staff.
Consider a follow-up phone call or another visit as appropriate.
Service to the Lord Jesus is a privilege and pleasing Him delights the heart. May you experience joy as you serve Him by serving others.
Sources: See end of this post.