Have been very grateful to often find people from one church or another visiting my Mum in hospital when I have arrived at the door of her ward. Simple enough but really appreciated and real church. I guess according to the bible if a church is not taking care of widows, orphans the sick, those in prison, the hungry, the poor etc etc., it is not a Church that Jesus recognises as real or one His presence is in. It has no genuine mission in His Name. If it is doing these things, whatever its shape or formation, however lively or dull its reputation, whatever the make up of its membership in terms of age or any other measure, He is there in and through it all.
I noticed that others in the ward noticed what I was noticing too. The Church being genuinely pastoral is evangelistic toward others. Can think of a few over the years who came to faith in Jesus because I was visiting someone else in hospital…by the way I hated hospital visits as a pastor, because I thought I was useless at them, clumsy, fumbling for words, inept…God has a way of turning up right when we think we are making an ass of ourselves and feel embarrassed at our own uselessness and irrelevance…
… one more thing. I hate dog collars with a passion, sorry clerical collars. However, they can be quite useful in hospitals and can lead to interesting conversations, esepcially when you are younger and folk call you over and say, “Aw Son/Missus, can I speak to you?” So, you younger probationer ministers, humble yourself and your perverse pride in the rightness of what others regard as your strange peccadilloes, put on your dog collar and get visiting…and yes I know it doesn’t need to be “the Minister” who does the visiting… but don’t devalue what a visit from “The Minister’ can mean.