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Session 2: Who Needs Pastoral Care?


By the end of this session you should be able to: 

  • Identify your own personal experiences of being cared for.

  • Identify your own personal experiences of caring for others.

  • Describe four dimensions to pastoral care, using the framework suggested by Pastoral Care UK.

  • Craft your own definition of pastoral care.



Loving God,
you are merciful and forgiving.
Surround with your comfort all those who are struggling this day in body, mind or spirit;
may they and we experience your generous love,
renewal and hope.
in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Different Dimensions

During the last week / month, how have you received pastoral care from others?  (No need to focus on the circumstances, but rather describe what the care looked like eg a meal, a listening ear, a smile.) Make a list.

Now, make yourself have a break / a drink away from your work station and when you come back, ask yourself:

- When I received pastoral care, how was I feeling at the time?

- Recognising that what I received was indeed pastoral care, how do I feel now?

- What do you notice about your feelings?

Optional – ask around:  whether it is in person, on facebook, via email, the choice is yours, but the task is to ask other people what sort of pastoral care they have received in the last week / month. Make a note of their responses, and compare them with your list.



This is an acronym used by Pastoral Care UK to help us when we are describing the different types of pastoral that we might offer or receive ourselves:

Sustaining help

Healing help

Reconciling help

Guiding help


Read page 24 of the text book "Exploring Pastoral Care: Heart of Mission and Discipleship" for the full definitions of each heading.

Return to your list of pastoral care you have received.
Mark your list with one or more of the S,H,R,G to indicate the dimension(s) you have experienced.

What’s missing? U

The acronym only works if you are prepared to place U in the middle – in other words, it is as important to recognise and receive pastoral care for yourself, as it is to offer and give pastoral care to others.  
We have two hands – one to give, and one to receive, and we are most effective when they are both in use.
Think about a time when you know you have not been balanced in giving and receiving.  What happened?  How did you feel? 

Image by Andre Mouton

Different Definitions

What do you think about the first of the definitions of pastoral care mentioned in the video: 'the love of Christ made personal'?

Was there anything that particulary struck you in the conversation, perhaps something you agreed with or felt resistance to ?  Why do you think that might have been?


Read page 29 of the core text ‘Exploring Pastoral Care'.

In your reflective journal make a list of what you consider to be the strengths and limitations of each definition.  You may find it helpful to set this up as a chart:

Screenshot 2020-03-04 14.47.20.png

Pulling together all you have absorbed in this session, have a go at crafting your own definition of pastoral care.

Spotlight on Doctrine

Doctrine is the church's word for the things we believe as Christians, because what we believe is so important to each one of us and our walk with God. From what you know of the story of Jesus what would he want to be included in any definition of pastoral care?  Write three things down in your learning journal for discussion on the Study Day.

Spotlight on Spirituality

Spirituality has to do with how we use what we believe to inform our prayer lives and our relationship with God.  In the light of your reflections on this session, what are you most thankful for?  What have you found difficult or challenging?  Write or draw just ONE word or image that will help you in your journey with God at this time.

Spotlight on A Safer Church

With what you already know about promoting a safer church, what are the main issues you have identified this week in order to be safe when involved with pastoral care?  Make a note in your learning journal for discussion on the Study Day.


Often one form of pastoral care needs to be offered alongside another, as human need has many facets. What examples come to mind? Some pastoral help requires us to know our limits and will require specialist support.  Name some examples. Some pastoral care involves the profoundly ordinary and natural, some the extraordinary and supernatural.  What has been your experience?


Pray about what you have learned, thanking God for any new insights into pastoral care and lifting to God anyone who has come into your thoughts as you have studied. You may like to use the video to help you as you pray.

Something Practical To Do

Ask around your family, friends and congregation and listen to what people tell you about their experience of being on the receiving end of pastoral care.

Share some of what you have found on the discussion board in the Forum (this post is required for those taking the assessment).


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