Pastoral Visitation Neglected, But Much-Needed

As an experienced pastor, such as Theodore Ledyard Cuyler (1822-1909), will tell you: A pastor's job does not consist solely in homiletics. "A large part of the labors of every settled minister lies outside the pulpit." 

Addressing an aspect of the ministry that is often overlooked to some degree -- pastoral visitation -- Cuyler goes on to say, in How to be a Pastor (1890): 

"The importance of all that portion of a minister’s work that lies outside of his pulpit can hardly be overestimated. What is the chief object of the Christian ministry? It goes without saying that it is to win souls to Jesus Christ. A great element of power with every faithful ambassador of Christ should be heart-power. A majority of all congregations, rich or poor, are reached and influenced, not so much through the intellect as through the affections. This is an encouraging fact; for while only one man in ten may have the talent to become a very great preacher, the other nine, if they love Christ and love human souls, can become great pastors. Nothing gives a minister such heart-power as personal acquaintance with, and personal attentions to those whom he aims to influence; for everybody loves to be noticed. Especially is personal sympathy welcome in seasons of trial. Let a pastor make himself at home in everybody’s home; let him come often and visit their sick rooms, and kneel beside their empty cribs, and their broken hearts, and pray with them; let him go to the business men in his congregation when they have suffered reverses and give them a word of cheer; let him be quick to recognize the poor, and the children — and he will weave a cord around the hearts of his people that will stand a prodigious pressure. His inferior sermons — (for every minister is guilty of such occasionally) —will be kindly condoned, and he can launch the most pungent truths at his auditors and they will not take offense. He will have won their hearts to himself, and that is a great step towards drawing them to the house of God, and winning their souls to the Saviour. “A house-going minister” said [Thomas] Chalmers, “makes a church-going people.”

To read more about the importance of pastoral visitation, especially in times of trial and sickness, and how it glorifies God in the ministry by demonstrating the love of Christ, take up and read Cuyler's heart-warming little book on the subject, which is dedicated particularly to "the young ministers of the Lord Jesus Christ," but is valuable for all.