A comfortable working relationship with the minister is essential for the successful operation ion of a Pastoral Care Team and the health of the church. The minister and the Pastoral Care Team have to be seen as working hand in hand, one the extension of the other, in order for the congregation to feel the security of an overall integrated caring presence.
Whether the Pastoral Care Team is initiated by the minister or a lay person is not as important as the ability of the two to support each other; communicate openly about what each are doing, and find a comfortable division of responsibilities that work to extend the caring ministry to the church community. Initially the responsibilities of the Pastoral Care Team need to be clearly defined, as well as the method in which the activities of the Pastoral Care Team will be reported to the minister.
In programs like ours where the duties of the minister and the Pastoral Care Team may overlap, like visiting the ill in the hospital or supporting members going through a life crisis, the reporting to the minister needs to be more frequent Our minister receives a print out of everyone we are seeing and which member of the Team is working with that person, once every two weeks. The minister attends some of our Pastoral Care meetings. He is free to call any member of the Team to inquire how any given person may be doing. The coordinator keeps the minister aware of any new person who has become ill and the minister in turn notifies the coordinator when help is needed. The coordinator of the Team needs to be sensitive to the areas of pastoral care that the minister feels is his/her domain and this will vary from minister to minister. The need for clearly defined areas of responsibility must be intentionally and carefully discussed between the coordinator and the minister as an ongoing topic for open and frank discussion.
For his/her part, the minister needs to encourage, support, and enable the Pastoral Care Team to develop their full potential given the goal of providing the most comprehensive, caring ministry circumstances will permit. The working relationship between the minister and the Pastoral Team will evolve over time particularly if the Pastoral Care Team starts small and does a good job which gains the trust of the minister and the congregation, and keeps the minister informed through clearly defined and mutually agreed upon channels of communication.