Tips For Hospital Visiting

Recently I was re-reading Brian Croft’s great little book, Visit the Sick: Ministering God’s Grace in Times of Illness, and thought I’d put together a few of his tips with some of my own gathered over 20 years of hospital visitation with the hope that it might encourage more of this ministry among Christians. Remember this is not something just for pastors and it also enters into our assessment at the final judgment: “I was sick and you visited me” (Matt. 25:36).

Practice self-denial: Hospital visits are not the most inviting prospects for most of us but love for suffering people must overcome love for our own comfort.

Believe in the simple power of presence: Hospitalized Christians can sometimes feel abandoned by God and very lonely. Don’t underestimate how much your mere physical presence can mean to them.

Don’t worry about what to say: That fear of “What will I say?” deters lots of people from hospital visits. But you don’t need to say a lot. In fact, silence often communicates more than our words. You can speak of Christ’s sufferings and of how He empathizes with us, and also share His care and compassion for the sick. And remember the promise of James 1:5.

Communicate with body language: Come down to their level and sit close (not on the bed) rather than at a distance. Don’t let your eyes wander all over the room but focus on the person. Use appropriate physical touch especially with older people and children.

Ask questions: Don’t ask all of these – this is not an interrogation.

  1. How are you feeling? What are you thinking?
  2. How is this affecting you? Spiritually, emotionally, socially?
  3. What are your fears /hopes?
  4. How are you struggling? Any area you would like to share?
  5. What are you praying for?
  6. Have you had any encouragements in the Word?
  7. How is your family?
  8. What good can you see coming out of this?
  9. Are you ready to die and meet God?
  10. Do you have questions for me?
  11. What can the church do to minister to you at this time and assist you with your needs?
  12. Is there anyone you would especially like to visit you?

Don’t talk about yourself: This is not the time for telling all about your medical history.

Empathize: Entering the person’s world, thinking his thoughts and feeling his feelings, is more important than questioning him all about his procedures, etc. People can tell if we are really loving them or just there out of a sense of duty.

Be Gentle: Use quiet, soothing, tender voice in all your dealings with sick people. This is not the time for your preaching voice.

Prepare to be shocked (but don’t show it): Prepare so that you will not be visibly, bodily, or audibly shocked by color, weight loss, face changes, pipes (just for Dan, I mean tubes not bagpipes), smells, sounds, etc. It’s frightening how quickly someone can change appearance through cancer and its treatments.

Respect the rules of the hospital and the family’s wishes: Observe visiting hours and don’t hinder medical staff in their work. Ask the family when best to visit and for how long. If no guidance, then assume 5-10 minutes average unless asked to stay longer and you are sure it will not tax the person.

Go hopefully: Times of sickness can be times of spiritual opening – even with people who have never received or have even opposed the Gospel message. Especially with terminal illness, this is not the time for small-talk and cracking of jokes. Keep eternity in view and approach the task with a sense of great urgency.

Go to learn: Go not just as a teacher but as a student. A Christian’s hospital bed can be like a little seminary. It is a great privilege to help saints through suffering and on to death. It sensitizes us as well as sanctifies us.

Encourage Witness: If the person is a Christian, and if she is able, encourage her to speak of Jesus to her family, her caregivers, and her fellow patients.

Remember the family: At times it may be the loved ones who you will minister to most. Remember the children especially and go out of your way to speak kindly to them.

Thanksgiving: Even when there is much suffering, always try to find reasons for thanksgiving, for small mercies along the way, for advances in medical technology, etc.

Read Scripture: Usually not a full chapter but verses from one of the following passages: Psalm 23; 28; 34; 46; 62; 103; 145; Isa. 40; John 10; John 14; Romans 5; Romans 8; 1 Corinthians 15; 2 Corinthians 1; Hebrews 4:14-16, 2 Corinthians 5:17-21; Eph. 2:1-10;; James 1:2-4; 1 Pet. 1:6-7; 4:12-19; Phil. 1:21-23; 1 Pet. 1:3-5; Rev. 21-22.

Heaven: Keep the suffering or dying Christian’s eyes on heaven and the world where there is no sin, suffering, or death (Rev. 21:4; 22:1-2).

What other tips would you add?

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From what I’ve seen in church circles, the default response to sexual abuse is “I don’t believe you – It’s not his fault.” A new blog says we need to learn a new default: “I believe you – it’s not your fault.”

Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has been on trial in Germany on $44m bribery charges. German prosecutors are now saying they will accept an offer of $100 million to end the trial and spare Ecclestone 10 years in jail. So, he gets to bribe his way out of a bribery charge!

Apparently we evangelicals have a persecution complex. Here’ we’re told that we have to wait until it gets to North Korea or Iraqi levels before we are allowed to squeal about it.

I’m still not sure if this is a parody or not, but seemingly it’s poor atheists who are being persecuted most in the US. But a new television channel, Atheist TV, is out to change that, calling for atheists to “come out” and demand equality. Jamila Bey from the Secular Student Alliance said “Many [atheists] were worried about being ostracised or were even scared of violence if they revealed they did not believe in God.”

It’s ironic to see Hollywood getting hammered for their “lack of diversity.” There were only 1.1% more black characters on the big screen than in 2007. Hispanics were “clearly the most underserved” racial or ethnic group. Although Hispanics make up 16% of the population, bought a quarter of all movie tickets in the US, and command about $1 trillion (£593m) in spending power, Hispanic actors played only 4.9% of speaking parts in 2013 blockbusters.

The report also found that Hispanic women were shown in “sexualised” portrayals more than any other ethnic group. More than 37% of Hispanic female characters were shown either naked or partially naked. The report suggested that this “illustrates how existing cultural stereotypes may still govern how characters from different backgrounds are shown on screen.”

Am I Called?

Here’s a great new new resource for you:  Am I Called? is a ministry led by Dave Harvey of Four Oaks Church in Tallahassee, Florida.  The ministry is largely focused on resourcing those who are exploring a call to ministry, but also serves those who are already in ministry through articles, podcasts, and networking help to connect churches with ministers.

Below is a video from David, explaining the purpose of Am I Called? and how it can help you in your journey. The church needs more pastors. The site exists to help meet that need.

A Potter Preaches A Video Sermon

The potter’s main points in this video sermon are:

1. God starts with ugly and unpromising material. (0.01)

2. God works patiently and slowly. (0.03)

3. God applies gentle transforming pressure to our lives. (0.18)

4. God bends our life in His chosen direction. (0.31)

4. God sometimes has to punch a hole in our lives. (0.59)

5. God is prepared to get His hands “dirty” to make us beautiful. (1.20)

6. God is painstakingly accurate in His handiwork. (1.49)

7. God admires and enjoys His craftsmanship. (2.36)

8. God doesn’t make any two pots the same. (2.49)

9. God sometimes turns our lives upside down. (2.56)

10. God may have to use a sharp knife instead of His gentle fingers. (3.01)

11. God cuts away waste from our lives. (3.40)

12. God is smoothing out every little bump and wrinkle (3.56)

13. God is the cause of all beauty and utility. (4.01)

14. God has a wise plan even if we cannot always figure it out. (4.04)

“O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter?” says the Lord. “Look, as the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel!” (Jer. 18:6)

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Weekend Reading

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: Relationships, Roles, and Relevance by Bruce A. Ware ($1.99)

The Mystery Of The Lord’s Supper by Thomas Watson ($0.99)

A Reasonable Response: Answers to Tough Questions on God, Christianity, and the Bible by William Lane Craig and Joseph E. Gorra ($3.99)

Reasons for Belief: Easy-to-Understand Answers to 10 Essential Questions by Norman L. Geisler and Patty Tunnicliffe ($1.99)

Resolving Everyday Conflict by Ken Sande ($1.99)

The NKJV Study Bible: Second Edition ($4.99)

The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph by Ryan Holiday ($3.99)

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin ($4.99)

The Guns of August: The Outbreak of World War I; Barbara W. Tuchman’s Great War Series by Barbara W. Tuchman ($4.99)

Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs: The Skills Gap and What Companies Can Do About It by Peter Cappelli ($1.99)

48 Days to the Work You Love by Dan Miller ($1.99)

Work Smarter: 350+ Online Resources Today’s Top Entrepreneurs Use To Increase Productivity and Achieve Their Goals by Nick Loper ($2.99)

Check Out

25 Things Successful Teachers Do Differently

Should You Wait to Have Kids Until You Can Afford Them? | True Woman

R.C. Sproul’s Crucial Questions eBooks Now Free Forever by Nathan W. Bingham | Ligonier Ministries Blog

Ask RC Jr: What are 7 things our generation has forgotten? – R.C. Sproul Jr.

Bring Back the Holy Kiss | TGC | The Gospel Coalition

Why 9-to-5 Offices Will Soon Be a Thing of the Past | eaHELP – Executive Virtual Assistants

3 Degrees of God’s Pleasure In His Children | Miscellanies.

12 Strategies for Singles and Hospitality | True Woman

Why Singles Belong in Churc h Leadership | Her.meneutics |

Journal As a Pathway to Joy | Desiring God

A Good Word from My Wife —

Coming (Back) to America: Accents | TGC

Preaching Job – Reformation21 Blog

Credo Magazine » Reading Job with Christopher Ash (Matthew Claridge)

Dear Grieving Parents | TGC | The Gospel Coalition

5 words on extemporaneous preaching

Anxiety and Depression, My Strange Friends | TGC | The Gospel Coalition

Ryan Anderson on Marriage at Stanford University | Denny Burk

Counsels for old age – Reformation21 Blog

Confessions of a Black Seminarian | RAANetwork


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PRTS Conference: Early Bird Discount Ends Today

 The Puritan Reformed Conference centers on biblically rich, Reformed, experiential, expositional preaching. It is an opportunity to experience two and a half days of sweet Christian fellowship and a time for personal and family edification as well as growth in the Word of God.

This year’s conference on The Beauty and Glory of Christ’s Bride will be from August 21-23 and will look at topics such as the church’s mission, the church’s discipline, the church’s diversity, the church’s persecution, and the church’s future.


We’re especially delighted that our overseas speaker this year will be Rev. Conrad Mbewe, often called the “Spurgeon of Africa.”

The wonderful new addition to the Seminary will also be officially opened and dedicated on the first evening of the conference with an opportunity to tour the new building.

Additionally, Reformation Heritage Books will be on hand to offer exceptionally low priced Christian literature to those attending the conference.

The Conference runs from August 21-23. For more information or to register, visit PRTS online at The early bird pricing of just $65 per person ends today, July 31.