In seminary, Don Cox served as our evangelism professor. He not only taught the biblical principles of this, but he modeled it for us as well. I am grateful on how he kept us accountable in sharing our faith.
At the time I took his class, I had just started pastoring a small rural church in Breckinridge County, Kentucky. I needed pointers in a hurry, so my ears perked up when he said he would give us some priceless advice on how to make a hospital visit.
These visits are difficult for a number of reasons. No one comes to a hospital for the sheer pleasure of it, so approaching these visits with sensitivity and care is of the utmost importance.
So, in this class I grabbed my pencil ready to do some serious writing on the matter. Here is what Dr. Cox said:
Be bright, be brief, and be gone! (Not much lead spent on that one.)
You know what? He is right.
Be bright. Patients in a hospital do not need help feeling bad–they are already there, both physically and emotionally. Come in, being bright–but not over the top. Let them know you love them, that you will listen to them, and then pray for them, encouraging them that others at your church are praying hard as well.
Be brief. While we must beware of staying too short a time, staying too long is far worse. Many struggle with pain, nausea, and other physical issues–not to mention fatigue. Staying longer than 10-15 unless asked will wear them out and not endear them to you later on.
Be gone. Hospital visits are not home visits. You are there to show you care, have prayer, then get out of there. I hope I am not coming across as callous. Some of the most wonderful visits I’ve had have been in hospitals visiting with families of patients in the waiting room. That’s different than in the room speaking with a patient struggling with various issues. Be sensitive to the quality and quantity of your stay. Better to be there too short than too long, in my opinion.
What think ye?