Bible Verses for Pastoral Visitation

An important aspect of pastoral ministry is that of visitation. Pastoral visitation will be done in a number of different contexts, but whatever the venue and whatever the situation, pastors need to be ready to minister the Word to those in need, especially when it comes to visiting and ministering to the sick. In his helpful book The Pastor’s Ministry, Brian Croft encourages pastors to have “a large store of passages laid up in memory and ready for use.” He goes on to list and categorize several different Scripture passages that can be used depending on the situation. They include the following:

  • Passages of comfort: Psalms 23; 28; 34; 46; 62; 145; Hebrews 4:14 – 16
  • Succinct gospel passages: John 11:25 – 26; Romans 5:6 – 11; 2 Corinthians 5:17 – 21; Ephesians 2:1 – 10
  • Passages dealing with the purpose of suffering for the believer: 2 Corinthians 12:7 – 9; James 1:2 – 4; 1 Peter 1:6 – 7; 4:12 – 19
  • Passages related to the reality and hope of eternity with Christ: John 10:27 – 30; 14:1 – 3; Philippians 1:21 – 23; 1 Peter 1:3 – 5

I would add just a few more: 1 Corinthians 15:50-58, Isaiah 40:28-31, James 5:14-20, Psalm 139:1-16, and Colossians 1:15-20

Obviously, the Word of God is vast and deep and you will no doubt find many more relevant passages, but this list does provide a good start. The important thing is to come prepared to minister to the Word of God to those in need.

Acts 20:17-20: 17 Now from Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called the elders of the church to come to him. 18 And when they came to him, he said to them:

“You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, 19 serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews; 20 how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house21 testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

6 Lessons From 6 Years of Pastoral Ministry

Hard to believe, but I have been in pastoral ministry for 6 years now. This has been a deeply gratifying and rewarding experience and I am grateful to God for His call upon my life. While in some ways I am still just a beginner and pray for many decades of fruitful ministry, there have been many lessons learned during my short tenure. Let me share just 6 with you.


1. The centrality of prayer.

Ministry makes huge demands upon the pastor and his family. There is always something more to do, and because of all the busyness, often the ministry of prayer gets skipped over. This is unfortunate and can be quite damaging to the success of the ministry. Therefore, the pastor must ensure that prayer is built into the daily rhythms of his life. It is also important to have organized times of corporate prayer, such as a weekly prayer meeting. Along with this, I am thankful for a church that I know holds my family up in prayer and other friends and family member that do the same. I have learned (and continue to learn) that ministry is war and if you are not covered in prayer, the enemy will walk all over you.


2. People grow through the Word of God.

Let me give you a little formula – growth happens in the Body of Christ as the Word of God is applied to the people of God through the agency of the Spirit of God. Let me say it again – people grow through the Word of God! It took me a while to realize this, but it is so critical to understand this. I see pastors all the time relying on gimmicks and programs and more gimmicks – things that promise to “pump out” disciples that in the end only disappoint. Shepherds must ensure that their flock is well nourished so that they will be healthy, strong, and effective in their walk with the Lord.


3. The need for patience and perseverance.

I grew up on a farm and I know the importance of patience when it comes to sowing and reaping. The farmer plants his crop in the spring, but has to wait several months until the fall to harvest it. If people grow through the Word of God (and they do) then it will require patience over the long haul. Most pastors are aware of all the massive church growth stories but we have to remember that they are not the norm. Pastors must commit themselves to diligently and faithfully teaching the Word of God year after year after year. In time, there will be an abundant harvest, but it takes patience and perseverance. In between the sowing and reaping, there will be times of trial, disappointment, setbacks, and who knows what else, but be faithful, be diligent, and persevere in the strength that only Christ can provide. And remember the words of Paul: “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth” (1 Corinthians 3:6).


4.The importance of one-to-one discipling relationships.

I love the story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8. If you are not familiar with this story, I would encourage you to study it on your own, but essentially, when Philip found the eunuch reading Isaiah 53, he asked, “Do you understand what you are reading? And he said, ‘How can I unless someone guides me?’ ….Then beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus” (Acts 8:30-31, 35). Although this was more of an evangelistic encounter, there is no question the church needs a lot more of this today. And it all starts with pastors. The pastor must set the tone when it comes to mentoring and discipling relationships in the church. This sets in motion what could be called the multiplication process where disciples make more disciples. Paul wrote to Timothy, “And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2). The pastor can’t disciple everyone, but he can train a few who will train a few, etc. etc.

5.The Church needs to be the Church.

What is a healthy church? I suppose there are a few ways of answering this question, but one indispensable quality of a healthy church is love among the brethren (Galatians 6:9-10 and John 13:34-35). Plain and simple, within a healthy church, people care for one another, serve one another, love one another, etc. etc. and this is all done because we love Jesus. When we begin to understand the love of God in Christ that has been showered upon us, we can’t help but love one another. This is one of the reasons I love the church. Seeing love in action is a beautiful thing and I can’t imagine ever not being part of a local body of believers.


6.What a valuable asset my wife is.

Steph is my most trusted friend and counselor and has been an immense help to me in ministry. Pastors (and husbands in general) thank God for your wife and treasurer her, for she is an incalculable blessing.


As you can tell, there is nothing revolutionary about this list. Some of these were not so much “lessons” as they were prior beliefs that have now become strong convictions based on my experience and study of the Word.

Should I Purchase a Kindle e-reader? – A Pastor’s Perspective

About a year and a half ago, we moved from Ohio to Waverly, NY. A team of four men (now all dear friends) were gracious enough to come and move us to our new home and church family. The big joke during (and for months after) the move was the amount of books I had – from my estimates between 800-900 volumes. The jokes still haven’t stopped but I really don’t mind. I love to read and books are just part of my toolkit.

It was around the time of our move, however, that I realized I had a bit of a problem. From the beginning, my new office was full of books and there was no room to grow my book collection. So I came up with the idea of replacing old and unused books with newer and better books. This has proved to be an effective solution as my library today contains better quality content books, even though the quantity of books has platowed, and even decreased a little.

Now, let’s get to the Kindle.

I have always been a late adapter when it comes to technology. In terms of books, I envisioned myself using traditional hard copy books long after the e-book, e-reader revolution. However, to my surprise that has changed. It all started when my wife downloaded the kindle app for our computers several months ago. Since that time, we have accumulated dozens of good books for a very reasonable price, sometimes even for free. While it took a while for us to get used to this new reading medium, I could see it’s value, something early adaptors foresaw years ago. Then last month my wife and I finally decided to purchase Kindle e-readers and we have quite enjoyed our new devices.

There are many tools and functions of the Kindle, especially if you have the Kindle Fire version. I am sure there are people who barely use it for reading at all. However, my concern in this review is the Kindle as an e-reader. It’s benefits are many, but allow me to just name a few.

First off, the reader can store hundreds of books on one device. If you travel a lot, this will prove especially useful. Another benefit is the adjustable font size to meet your reading preferences. Last week a pastor friend of mine told me that using an e-reader has helped him in his bible reading, as he no longer strains to read the text. I would also add that the Kindle is easy to navigate is incredibly light. If you are like me and have some big tomes that are not easy to hold, this is especially nice. Lastly, if you find a good quote that you want to use in your teaching or preaching, it is easy to copy and paste, and much quicker than copying word for word. I have already taken advantage of this a few times.

I would still recommend getting a hard copy book if you know it’s going to be a reference book – one that you will consult again and again. I often enjoy marking up my books as I interact with and think through the books content. And while you can do that with an e-reader, I still find it easier with a hard copy book. I would also warn against over collecting. If you are used to buying $10-20 books, $5-10 books (or cheaper) can be tempting, but a book’s true value is in actually being read. As King Solomon reminds us, “Of making many books there is no end” (Ecclesiastes 12:12). It’s not how many books you have that matters, it’s the quality of books you have, and being able to master those books.

You probably already know there are several excellent e-readers on the market today. My intention is not to promote the Kindle so much as it is to recommend purchasing an e-reader in general. I expect that traditional, hard copy books will always be a part of my library, but I have now made the switch to regularly using an e-reader and I don’t regret it.

Mercy Triumphs Over Judgment

“Gordon and Emma met at a church function. She was an admirable young woman, and he was a fairly new pastor. Their wedding day seemed to be the launch of a godly couple in the promise of fruitful ministry in the decades ahead. But just a few days into their honeymoon, all of Emma’s dreams for her life were crushed. Gordon made it clear that he didn’t love Emma, and that he had married her simply because there were more opportunities for married pastors than single ones.


For forty years, through the birth of six children, and the while functioning as a pastor, Gordon made no meaningful attempt to kindle love for his wife. Freely admitting to an adulterous affair that began after the birth of their fourth child, Gordon insisted he must remain married – divorce would derail his pastoral career. Marriage for Emma became a life of secret shame. She was relegated to sharing a room with their two daughters, while her husband stayed in a separate room, and their four sons in another.


Gordon’s disregard for Emma permeated almost every facet of their marriage. While she continued to live under the same roof, she never experienced life under his care. Seemingly normal on the outside, Gordon’s disdain for his marriage created a home ruled by his hypocrisy and indifference to his wife’s well-being. His children grew up with a clear sense of the difference in their family and others, but little grasp on the fundamental wrong being done to their mother on a daily basis.


But Emma loved the Savior who was merciful to her and clung to him through the trials and years. Bereft of human love from the man she had wed, she threw herself on the mercy of God. The gospel reminded her that she needed a Savior – and that her principal need was not to be saved from a cruel twist of fate, or the evil of the man who shared her home, but from her own profound sinfulness before God. Emma understood the mercy and forgiveness of God for her sin, and accepted the Father’s call to extend mercy toward her husband. Emma never allowed bitterness to take root in her heart. Instead she learned how to stand with dignity by entrusting her welfare to Christ.


For four decades, mercy defined her actions, thoughts, and words toward the man whose very purpose in life seemed to be to crush her spirit. Knowing that her response to her husband would testify to her children about the God she served, Emma was resolutely determined to draw on Christ for grace and to honor Christ in her actions.


The marriage ended sadly and painfully after forty years – an apparent ministry call squandered, a financially destitute family shattered by the unrepentant sin of one man. In the years following their divorce, Emma sent Gordon birthday cards and periodic letters, calling the lonely and rebellious man to God. She was tasting the sweet joy of a deep relationship with the Father, and increasingly longed for Gordon to know that for himself.


Somewhere in that time, the mercy of God broke in on Gordon and he responded to the gospel call in saving faith. The children, now adult Christians, lovingly confronted him on his past sins, and for the first time Gordon took responsibility for the destruction of his family. Gordon wrote a letter to Emma confessing his sin against God and against her. Emma was faced with the test of forgiveness. Can it be that easy? Can mercy cover forty years of wrong? We have Emma’s choice preserved in the note she wrote back to her former husband:


It is with mixed emotions that I read your letter. Sad, as I was reminded of many difficult years, but also glad for the work the Spirit of God is doing in your life. Glad to hear you share your failures so frankly and ask for my forgiveness. And glad to hear you share them with your children. Gordon, I forgive you. I forgive you for not loving me as Christ loved the church and for your disregard of our marriage vows. Though I am saddened by many marriage memories, I have released them to the Lord and have guarded my heart from the ravages of bitterness. I rejoice in the mercy of God, that in spite of our failed marriage, our children all serve the Lord faithfully….God uses confession and forgiveness to bring healing. I’m trusting God that will be true for both of us.


Both Emma and Gordon have gone on to be with the Savior, who wove restoration into a torn family with the strong threads of mercy. All of their children love the Savior and now see the mysterious purpose of God as they look back. Though Emma and Gordon were never restored as husband and wife, Gordon was laid to rest in old age, no longer alone, surrounded not only by his family but by the friends of his church with whom he had knit his life. Emma’s body gave in over time to stroke, but her spirit and story define a work of God that transcends the failure of marriage and touched many lives.


For Emma, mercy had triumphed over judgment decades before Gordon repented. Mercy triumphed with every prayer cast heavenward, every sin covered in love, every refusal to grow bitter. For Gordon, mercy meant getting what he didn’t deserve – the forgiveness of his sins, the love of his family, a home with the Savior, six God-honoring children, Emma’s life-long love of Christ. Each of these remarkable outcomes point to the triumphant sweetening effect of mercy – the remarkable mercy Emma received from God and lavished on her family.”


Taken from Dave Harvey’s book When Sinner’s Say I Do: Discovering the Power of the Gospel for Marriage (pages 77-78, 94-96).

The Pastor and Study

In three separate spots around my office, I have Nehemiah 6:3 posted: “And I sent messengers to them, saying, I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you?” Why post such a verse, you ask? Well, it is a reminder to me that the work I do as a pastor, primarily prayer and the Word (Acts 6:4), is a great work not to be neglected. That doesn’t mean I neglect other things like spending time with people, but it is a reminder of my primary calling as a pastor.


I have another verse posted, 2 Timothy 2:15, right next to the Nehemiah verse. “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” As a pastor, I will be the first to admit that teaching and preaching God’s word is hard work. Without putting forth the needed time and effort, I will soon find myself “handling the word of truth” in a careless manner and in way that is not edifying to my hearers. This verse reminds me that I am accountable to God and have a responsibility to teach sound doctrine (Titus 1:9).


I have yet to post this one in my office, but another verse that serves as a helpful reminder is Ezra 7:10. “For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.” Ezra is a model for pastors in that he first set his heart to study, then to do it (apply what he learned to his own life), and finally to teach it (to the people under his charge). As Alistair Begg and Derek Prime put it, “The key to success in study is that we always study with a view to our own obedience first. A trap that Satan regularly tries to set is for us so to concentrate upon others’ obedience to God that we neglect our own obedience. Whatever we study in the Scriptures – even though we inevitably have our preaching to others in view – we must first relate to ourselves, and practice. Then we may teach other what we ourselves are striving to obey.” (On Being a Pastor – p. 103)


The pastor who has not done his homework, so to speak, will starve the sheep and disqualify himself from leadership. The faithful pastor, on the other hand, is a reservoir of truth, constantly feeding those who hunger and thirst for the manna of God’s Word. If you are a pastor, I trust you see the importance of diligent and prayerful study in ministry. As pastors and local church leaders, we have been entrusted with the gospel (1 Thessalonians 2:4) and this is a high calling indeed. One day we will give an account to God as to how we fed and nourished God’s flock under our care (Hebrews 13:17). God help us to be faithful in this charge.

The Minister as a Shining Light

Jonathan Edwards:

A minister is set to be a light to men’s souls, by teaching, or doctrine. And if he be a shining light in this respect, the light of his doctrine must be bright and full; it must be pure without mixtures of darkness; and therefore he must be sound in the faith, not one that is of a reprobate mind; in doctrine he must show uncorruptness; otherwise his light will be darkness. He must not lead his people into errors, but teach them the truth only, guiding their feet into the way of peace, and leading them in the right ways of the Lord.

He must be one that is able to teach, not one that is raw, ignorant or unlearned, and but little versed in the things that he is to teach others; not a novice, or one that is unskillful in the word of righteousness; he must be one that is well studied in divinity, well acquainted with the written Word of God, mighty in the Scriptures, and able to instruct and convince gainsayers.

And in order to be a “shining light,” he must be one that really knows what religion is, one that is truly acquainted with that Savior and way of salvation, that he is to teach to others, that he may “speak the things that he knows, and testify the things that he has seen” [John 3:11], and not be a blind leader of the blind. He must be one that is acquainted with experimental religion, and not ignorant of the inward operations of the Spirit of God, nor of Satan’s devices; able to guide souls under their particular difficulties. Thus he must be a scribe well instructed in things that pertain to the kingdom of God; one that “brings forth out of his treasures things new and old” [Matthew 13:52].

And in order to his being a “shining light,” his doctrine must be full, he must not only be able to teach, but apt to teach, ready to instruct the ignorant, and them that are out of the way, and diligent in teaching, in public and private; and careful and faithful to declare the whole counsel of God, and not to keep back anything that may be profitable to his hearers. Also his being a “shining light” implies that his instructions are clear and plain, accommodated to the capacity of his hearers, and tending to convey light to their understandings.

Adapted from an ordination sermon Edwards preached on August 30, 1744. The sermon is called The True Excellency of a Minister of the Gospel.

A Multiplying Ministry

A key element in the apostle Paul’s ministry strategy was to reproduce himself in others. Perhaps this strategy is most clearly seen in 2 Timothy 2:2 where Paul writes, “and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” This process started with Paul investing himself in Timothy, but it was not to stop there. As Timothy grew and matured, he was to commit himself to the training of other “faithful men.” This is where the multiplying effect really kicked into gear. These men were expected to “teach others also,” who would teach others also, and on an on it goes. This is nothing new – Paul simply followed the ministry strategy of Jesus in His training of the Twelve. What his Savior modeled and taught, Paul modeled and taught. This worked very effectively as the early church grew and flourished. The same is true over the past two thousand years – when this ministry strategy was followed, the church (in a particular context) experienced growth and health.

Today this standard still applies. If pastors and leaders are not working and planning with the aim of raising up other leaders for tomorrow’s church, they are falling short of our Lord’s commands. As Bill Hull explains in his book The Disciple-Making Church, “The communication and reproduction of the Gospel must become the criteria for leadership. A candidate (for leadership) must be spiritually motivated and propagating the Gospel must become his ultimate objective.” The goal for the pastor is not simply to build a big church with lots of attenders, but to build a healthy church that is filled with disciples. In Luke 6:40 Jesus explained that, “A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.” Faithful Bible teachers all look the same and sound the same. Of course, they all have their own unique personality, but down through the ages as disciples have been reproduced, they bear a striking similarity to their teacher, who is ultimately…Jesus.

As we recognize individuals who are in love with Jesus and who have the right character and giftedness for leadership, we must not fail to invest, train and mentor them, and raise them up so that they can do the same for others and lead the church into the future. To be sure, this process takes time. As Oswald Sanders reminds us in his classic book Spiritual Leadership, “Leadership training cannot be done on a mass scale. It requires patient, careful instruction and prayerful, personal guidance over a considerable time. Disciples are not manufactured wholesale. They are produced one by one, because someone has taken the pains to discipline, to instruct and enlighten, to nurture and train.”

In conclusion, pastors and leaders must be intentional about training up “faithful men” in their ministry strategy. It doesn’t just happen without careful planning, implementing and investing. This is going to take a lot of time and effort, but as the multiplying effect gains momentum, the fruit of this ministry strategy will be evident.