One of my 2008 goals at Resurrection was to develop a greater skill set for Pastoral Care. Part of my work to do that was reading Pastoral Care: An Essential Guide by John Patton with my team of Congregational Care Ministers.
I really enjoyed the book and would highly recommend it to anyone involved with a caring ministry. The basic thesis that Patton lays out in his introduction is that, “Our human caring is based in God’s care; we care for each other because God cares for us. Pastoral care is the action of a community of faith that celebrates God’s care by also hearing and remembring those who are in some way cut off from the faith community.”
The early chapters provide a general theological backing for care-giving as well as practical helps for specific kinds of care needs: Pastoral Presence, Pastoral Guidance, Loss and Grief, and Care for the Sick. The closing chapters deal with Abuse, Marraige and Family issues, and Pastoral Counseling. Patton argues that these last three are more for pastors than for lay care givers, however I found them to be applicable and helpful for the Congregational Care Ministers with whom I work at Resurrection.
Overall, I’d recommend this book as a helpful read to anyone wanting to gain a bit of insight into the nuts and bolts of and theory behind care giving.