Chapter 6. Worship and Ministry Within the Community of Faith

6.1 Ministries within the Church

6.1.1 Responding to God in Ministries

In communal and personal worship God calls people to faith and discipleship. Those responding to this call offer themselves and the gifts which God has given them to be used in the life of the community of faith for ministries to the world and to one another. (Ministries outside the community of faith are dealt with elsewhere in the Directory, including in chapter seven.)

6.1.2 Ministries within the Church

Ministries to one another in the Church spring from and are nourished by the Word proclaimed and heard, by the Sacraments celebrated and received, and by prayer offered and shared in worship.

6.1.3 Nurture and Pastoral Care

Nurture and pastoral care are ways in which Christians minister to one another. The nurture of believers and their children in the Christian community is a process of helping them to grow to full maturity in life and service in Jesus Christ. Pastoral care is the support which Christians offer one another in daily living. This includes times of need and of crisis in personal and communal life. Often nurture involves pastoral care, and pastoral care furthers nurture.

6.2 Christian Nurture

6.2.1 Entering the Community

The Christian community provides nurture for its members through all of life and life's transitions. The Church offers nurture to those entering the community of faith by

i. preparing them for Baptism,

ii. including them in the life of the community,

iii. welcoming them to participate in its worship and inviting them to come to the Lord's Table,

iv. assisting them to claim their identity as believers in Jesus Christ

v. equipping them to live as commissioned disciples in the world.

6.2.2 Assuming Responsibility

The Church offers nurture to people assuming responsibility in the world, assisting them

i. with self-discovery and world awareness,

ii. with self-discipline and discipleship,

iii. with developing commitment to moral and ethical values,

iv. with making informed choices about education and occupations,

v. with making wise commitments in personal and marriage relationships,

vi. with clarification of issues for social and political action.

6.2.3 Living Out Vocation

As the Church ministers to people who are discovering Christian vocation, so it offers nurture to those who are living out their vocation. It guides and supports them in their discipleship

i. as ministers to one another in the community of faith,

ii. as stewards of material resources, time, and talents,

iii. as members of families, especially in their own role of sharing the faith with others of their households,

iv. as responsible citizens,

v. as servants of God for the world.

6.2.4 Responding to Change

The Church provides nurture to guide and support people as they continue their discipleship in circumstances offering new limitations and new freedoms.

6.2.5 Providers of Nurture in the Faith

In the service of Baptism the congregation, trusting in the power of the Holy Spirit, and on behalf of the universal Church, pledges responsibility for Christian nurture. Nurture is the task of the whole community exercising mutual ministry. However, within the community of faith some have particular responsibilities. The Session/Parish Council is responsible for providing for the development and supervision of the educational programme of the church, for instructing officebearers, and for developing discipleship among members. The minister nurtures the community through the ministries of Word and Sacrament, by praying with and for the congregation, through formal and informal teaching, and by example. Some in the community of faith whose special gifts and training have prepared them share the faith of the Church with children.

6.2.6 Resources and Occasions for Nurture

The primary standard and resource for the nurture of the Church is the Word of God in Scripture. The central occasions for nurture in the Church are the public services of the church where the Word is proclaimed and the Sacraments are celebrated. All members of the community, from oldest to youngest, are encouraged to be present and to participate. Educational activities should not be scheduled which prevent regular participation in this service. An important and continuing context for Christian nurture is the home where faith is shared. The Church provides other occasions for nurture including Christian education classes, groups, fellowships, committees, retreats and conferences.

6.3 Pastoral Care

6.3.1 Introduction

The Christian community offers pastoral care to its members in their personal and communal life. The Church may provide different levels of this mutual ministry of care. The Church offers pastoral care to people in the special needs and crises of their lives.

6.3.2 Care by All Christians

All Christians are called to care for one another in daily living, sharing joys and sorrows, supporting in times of stress and need, offering mutual forgiveness and reconciliation. This care is primarily offered as the community of faith worships together. It is also provided as people interact in community and as they come together in groups for nurture or to carry on ministries of the Church. Elders and officebearers are called to special responsibility for this common pastoral care.

6.3.3 Pastoral Counselling

Some in the community of faith who have special gifts and appropriate training are called in the Church to the particular ministry of pastoral counselling with individuals, with families and with groups.

6.3.4 Referral

In certain circumstances pastoral care may necessitate referral to those qualified by training and faith-perspective to provide appropriate counselling or therapy.

6.3.5 Care in Illness

The Church offers pastoral care to people in the special needs and crises of their lives. When people are ill, Christians respond with prayer, visits, and other acts which express love and support for those who are sick and for their households, their families, and their friends. When illness is critical or is prolonged, those offering pastoral care will give special attention to the needs and stresses experienced by everyone involved. Terminal illness calls for particular care which mediates trust in God, support in suffering, comfort for distress, and hope in the face of death for all concerned.

6.3.6 Care at Death

When death comes, the Church in its pastoral care immediately offers the ministry of presence, of shared loss and pain, of faith and hope in the power of the resurrection, and of ordinary acts of care and love. The Church continues special pastoral care during the time of grieving and adjusting.

6.3.7 Care in Life Crises

Other occasions of life-crises, such as

i. changes of status,

ii. the loss of meaningful employment, means of livelihood, or financial security,

iii. the fading away of a once-important relationship,

iv. the ending of a marriage in separation or divorce,

v. the departure of children from the home,

vi. the limitations resulting from accident or life transitions call for pastoral care which provides opportunities to grieve and offers practical help and support in the process of renewal and adjustment.

6.3.8 Care in Broken Relationships

The Church provides pastoral care which calls people to healing and seeks to support those caught up in the hurts, hostilities, and conflicts of daily living which lead to broken relationships in families and households, in the school and the workplace, in neighbourhoods, communities, in the nation, and in the Church.

6.3.9 Care in Reconciliation and Forgiveness

The call to healing of relationships in pastoral care involves the recognition in each one's life of the reality of sin, which is the source of all human brokenness. The believing community announces the good news of God whose love gives people grace

i. to confess their sin and complicity in brokenness,

ii. to repent, expressing sorrow and intention to change,

iii. to accept God's forgiveness and extend that forgiveness to another,

iv. to forgive the other and accept the other's forgiveness,

v. to work toward reconciliation in brokenness,

vi. to trust the power of God to bring healing and peace.

Receiving confession and declaring God's forgiveness, calling for repentance and providing support in the struggle toward new life, encouraging people to forgive and to receive forgiveness, and mediating reconciliation - all these are appropriate acts of pastoral care. It is the responsibility of Sessions/Parish Councils and Presbyteries to ensure that appropriate reconciliation/mediation avenues are pursued.

6.3.10 Care in the Transitions of Life

The Church recognises transitions which bring joy and sorrow in human life:

i. children are born, grow up, become independent, find their aging parents becoming dependent on them;

ii. people begin work, change jobs, retire;

iii. households are established, move to new locations, gain and lose members;

iv. people are empowered, restored, make new commitments.

The ministries of pastoral care support people in recognising, accepting, and celebrating these and other such times of adjustment, assisting them in working toward a new role in life and affirming their identity through transition.

6.3.11 Resources of Worship for Pastoral Care

The community of faith engages in the ministries of mutual care in its worship, and its members draw upon the resources of worship in giving pastoral care.

i. Scripture is central as a resource for support, comfort, and guidance. The proclamation of the Word in sermon and song may lead to recognising need and may provide care.

ii. Prayers - silent, spoken, and sung - give thanks, intercede, make, supplication, and acknowledge God's presence and power. Prayer enacted by the laying on of hands and anointing calls upon God to heal, empower, and sustain.

iii. Offering the Sacraments in hospital or household celebrates the presence of Christ, and enfolds people in the community of faith.

iv. The Lord's Prayer, psalms, doxologies, benedictions, and other portions of a congregation's worship may extend the support and care of the community of faith to those whose special needs or circumstances have placed them in isolation and remind them of their place in that community.

v. Times of remembrance, concerns of the people, prayers of intercession, and other such occasions in corporate worship will bring into the worship the community of faith, in appreciation or concern, those who are absent.

6.3.12 Worship and Ministry

The worship of God in the Christian community is the foundation for the ministry of pastoral care as well as for the ministry of nurture in the faith.