Word of the Week

Pastoral Care Through Text

When texting became all the more mainstream (especially with those under the age of 30) around 2005-2006 ish, I was a bit skeptical of the practice. What was the point? Why not just call someone?

Even with my reservations, I got in, especially as  youth in the church where I was serving full-time were texting me no matter if I liked it or not. My cell phone bills soared. So, eventually, I broke down and bought a texting friendly phone plan too. I found that certain youth would only come to events if 1) they didn't have anything  to better to do 2) I texted to remind them to come. If I wanted a youth group, texting was a key!

And, soon I found myself texting my husband when a meeting ran over or when I was going to meet him for dinner. I texted friends happy birthday. I kept up with my sister in college through texts. Texting was not just "for the youth" it was part of my personal life too. Of course, it didn't replace personal contact and even voice-to-voice phone calls, but it enhanced communication in an ongoing relationship.

Yet, when I became the pastor of Washington Plaza, I thought for a while that my texting days were over as far as work stuff was concerned. "No one here will be kept from coming to an event because I forgot to text them, " I thought. I was entering as the pastor of a congregation made mostly (at the time) of folks over 60. However, a few folks, though have surprised me. (It always makes me smile to get a text message from someone over 50. Always).

But as texting has become all the more mainstream in culture and we've added some young members to our roles, texting as pastoral care has become all the more important part of what I do. In a given week:

Members text me to tell me prayer requests or to give me updates on sick family members.

Members text me to ask for rides to church or to let me know if they will or will not be at a Bible Study.

Members text me to remind me to perform a particular task before Sunday morning worship begins if they are out sick.

I text members to check on them when I know they've been going through a particularly difficult time.

I text members to let them know about the urgent needs of those in our community such as a death or a hospital stay so that they can extend their arms of service in our community too.

I text members to tell them that I missed them in worship and can't wait to see them again soon.

You can call a text message impersonal form of contact, but ultimately, it is contact. Contact is all about love, concern and faithfulness to those in whom we are covenanted together in community with. I will keep  doing whatever it takes to have members and visitors alike in this community know that I care about them and so does the church-- even if it means sending them a message I thought never would be considered pastoral: a text.