Continuing the Health Care Conversation

Mark has started responding (crossposted to Stones Cry Out) to some of what I have said on health care, though I have said very little and done so with many words!

Mark describes his post as a bit critical, but I would describe it more as vigorously advancing the conversation. If there was an award for most constructive response, his would get it. I like the rewrite of my story. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen that way, which was part of my point. There were certainly things done wrong in my story.

I do want to make one correction. I am not the priest or minister of my parish. I lead a parachurch ministry (Pacesetters Bible School) which is a small ministry dedicated to helping local congregations with religious education. I have to do my “tentmaking” which involves both earnings from my writing and some computer work. Thus I have contact with several congregations, and I have a congregation to which I belong, but I am not the pastor of any.

The question on which I’d like to contact as I go forward is simply how do we get from my story to the story that ought to be? That’s easier said than done. I recall one occasion when our son was having surgery that we were supported by four pastors (remember the multiple church contacts) and a crowd of helpful church members. I know of a number of cases, however, in which people have been lost in the system somehow, and they do not get the pastoral care. There are a number of reasons for that, and I’d like to discuss them. (I commented some on a related topic on my Running Toward the Goal podcast today.)

In my emergency room case some people were aware, but little was done. I don’t blame anyone for that. My suspicion is that 20 people found out at once and each assumed somebody else had called prayer chains and so forth. Again, a good topic as we continue is how we change that situation in congregations where this happens.

I’m often more of a story teller, and find it hard to get to the point, but let me mention one more thing. I was thinking this morning of my father’s funeral. Our family (I’m the out of town guy in this place) was unable to contact his pastor, and so finally asked me to preach for the funeral. After consulting a pastor who is a friend on whom I can rely for honest counsel, I agreed. The question I had in my mind this morning was how does it happen that a retired missionary dies, and the family can’t locate his pastor? But then another question came to mind. Why should it matter whether he was a retired missionary? Why should any church member be unable to contact a pastor at such a time?

Yes, I’m very well aware of pastors being busy, having vacations, and problems with communication. But in many churches I know any pastor who was going to be out of touch for more than an hour or so would have an alternative option provided. When on vacation, there are always ministers of neighboring churches to cover for the pastor. Further, I think we depend too heavily on the pastor in circumstances like these. Who in the church is prepared to take action?

As you can doubtless see, I’m not answering many of these questions, but I do intend to post on many of these as time goes on. In the meantime I think it would be wonderful if other Christian bloggers would join this discussion. Surely the role of the church here is of interest to many of us, and something on which we can converse productively.

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