This article is from The Concordia Plan Services Ministerial Care Coalition publication, Impulse. The author is Rev. Dr. Richard Koehneke of Fort Wayne. The article links to a great two-minute video on “Caring for the Called,” introducing a program that is being offered in the Indiana District.
This article is in sync with 2016 Synodical Convention resolutions, Res. 18-04: “To encourage congregations, ministries, and church workers to develop an intentional wellness care plan,” and Res. 18-05: “To encourage DPs, CVs, and congregations to utilize resources already established for ministerial wellness.”
“Caring for the Called” focuses on the holistic well-being of church workers: mentally, physically, spiritually, financially, relationally, emotionally, intellectually, and vocationally. It does so in a proactive, strategic manner designed to prevent problems from developing and/or to address problems in their early stages before they turn into crises. Everything is done in a spirit of compassion for each church worker, not a spirit of judgment or condemnation. The purpose of “Caring for the Called” is not to criticize, but to encourage and assist.
What is the desired outcome of “Caring for the Called”?
Church workers are paying attention to their well-being so that they can serve faithfully and effectively; lay leaders are supportive of church workers in their self-care; congregations provide policies and resources that encourage workers in their efforts at self-care.
Here are the six major objectives of “Caring for the Called”
- To foster a culture of intentional, proactive, practical care and concern for the well-being of pastors and other church workers
- To communicate with key lay leadership groups regarding the need for care for their workers for the sake of the mission of the church
- To encourage and assist congregations in establishing internal worker support systems oriented toward prevention, not only remediation
- To offer resources for worker care
- To follow up with lay leadership groups to encourage them to use these resources
- To communicate with pastors in a variety of ways at every step of the process in order to build trust and confidence
The two-hour presentation focuses on the following points
- The Wellness/Wholeness Wheel (from Concordia Plan Services)
- Three-Dimensional Wellness (staff, congregation, community)
- Four major threats to the well-being of the church’s workers (from Dr. Bruce Hartung)
- Some unique aspects of parish pastoral ministry (from a national survey by the United Methodist Church)
- Two instruments for self-assessment (from Dr. Bruce Hartung)
- Support systems to support workers in being well so that they can serve well (from Rev. David Muench)
- What healthy congregations do in support of the well-being of their workers (from Dr. Bruce Hartung)
- A variety of available resources (e. g., Concordia Plan Services, Grace Place, Doxology, etc.)
Our thanks to The Lutheran Foundation in Fort Wayne, Indiana for funding “Caring for the Called” since August 2014. Some 41 congregations in northeast Indiana have received the presentation. Follow-up is ongoing. Efforts are underway to expand “Caring for the Called” to include principals, teachers, deaconesses, and directors of Christian education.
Here is a link to a three-minute video that was produced by The Lutheran Foundation in 2016. https://youtu.be/vM_CE5EDnHk
“I’ve been an elder here and in another congregation for 7 years and this is the first time I’ve participated in a discussion like this, long overdue and very timely. Thanks!”
“I enjoyed the presentation and information. There is a lot of great information that can be used in all aspects of life. Presentation was very comprehensive, and with more time/reading I will be able to understand all topics more fully. I am very appreciative of the time spent.”
“Having listened to your presentation it has motivated me to want to be involved in helping our pastors with wellness. I want them to be as effective and fulfilled as possible.”
Those are a few of many written comments by lay leaders in 41 LCMS congregations in northeast Indiana following a two-hour presentation of “Caring for the Called.”
Contributed by Rev. Richard Koehneke
Ministerial Health Consultant, Indiana District, TLC-MS