Questions that help you select good laypeople to be part of your congregation's pastoral care network.
Sample Questions for Potential Lay Pastoral Caregivers and Their References
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When you're building up a team of lay pastoral caregivers in your congregation, it's important to ask good questions. Their answers will help you determine whether a prospective caregiver has the appropriate boundaries and skills for the role. Here are some questions that can help you assess whether their gifts should be put to use by the congregation as a lay pastoral caregiver, or perhaps in another way. 

Questions for the Pastoral Caregiver Applicant

What experience (professional and/or life experience) do you have

  • as an active listener?
  • as someone who holds confidences?
  • as someone who accompanies people through difficult places in their lives?
  • as someone who can build rapport and trust with others who are different from you?

Have you been through difficult experiences in your life where someone's compassionate listening presence made a difference to you? If so, describe what you learned from that.

What do you understand about the ways that people make spiritual and theological meaning in the face of illness, loss, and grief?

What is your understanding of appropriate vs. inappropriate personal boundaries for a pastoral caregiver?

What calls to you about the work of being a lay pastoral caregiver? What kind of experience do you expect to have?

Questions for Their References

In what ways have you witnessed this applicant being:

  • an active listener?
  • someone who holds confidences?
  • someone who accompanies people through difficult places in their lives?
  • someone who can build rapport and trust with others who are different from themselves?

Would you have any concerns about this applicant working with people during particularly vulnerable times in those people's lives? 

Any other things you'd think I'd be interested to know as I consider their fit for this role?

About the Author

  • Rev. Sarah Gibb Millspaugh joined the Pacific Western Region's Congregational Life staff in July 2016.

For more information contact conglife@uua.org.

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