A hospital visit is one of the most important kinds of visits to be made by Christians. Each year, more and more of our members of our church, our community, and our families are hospitalized for short or long-term treatment. A hospital visit by a pastor, a deacon, a LifeGroup leader, or Christian friend demonstrates God’s care in a way the patient can see. You become a reminder that the Lord Jesus promised to never leave us nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). Your visit will remind the person of the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit. Your visit will show them that Jesus understands how they feel. After all, the Bible says in Isaiah 53:4 that Jesus has “borne our griefs and carried our sorrows.”
Here are a few tips for making effective hospital visits that I have found helpful.
1. Preparation for a Visit
Preparation is vitally important. Prepare yourself spiritually. Remind yourself that you are going in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and His church. The first thing you should do is:
- Pray. Ask the Lord to use you as His instrument of comfort. Ask God to give you wisdom as you make the visit. Ask Him to bless the patient. Thank Him for the privilege of ministering in His name.
- Evaluate the reason for the visit. Secure the address and phone number of the hospital. Try to determine if you will be visiting a person prior to surgery or after surgery. The person may be in the Emergency Room.
- Collect data about the person to be visited. Find out why the person has been hospitalized. Secure the patient’s room number. Remember to never take second-hand information as fact. Allow the patient or the patient’s family give you the facts.
- Remember you are an ambassador for Christ.
Every person who sees you should see you as a Christian witness.
- Dress appropriately. (Business attire or business casual)
2. When You Arrive
- Be kind and friendly to everyone you meet. Parking lot attendants, Pink Ladies, etc.
- Verify the room number. Approach the information desk and inquire, “In what room is Mrs. Smith?” You may already know, but there is always a chance she has been transferred to another room, has been discharged, or has passed away. If the patient has died while in the hospital the information desk nor staff will give you that information.
- Check with the nurse’s station if you aren’t sure if you should go in or if there are certain health-safety precautions you should take.
- Always wash your hands before entering the room.
- Be flexible if the time for the visit is not the best. If you are asked to come back at another time say, “Of course I can. I don’t want to interfere with her getting well. Is it alright if I leave this note and magazine for her? Could one of you see to it that she gets it?”
- Approach the patient’s room with sensitivity. Look for signs or special instructions of the patient’s door before entering.
3. The Actual Visit
- Identification: Be sure the patient or family knows who you are that you represent the church and/or the Deacon’s Ministry of FCBC. Let them know that you are an extension of the pastor’s ministry.
Example: “Hello, Martha. I am Bill Robinson. I am one of the deacons at Fort Caroline Baptist Church.” You should ask if this is a good time to visit. If the patient seems to be in pain or is uncomfortable then make your visit brief.
Example: “The whole Sunday School class is praying for you Martha. What may I tell them for you when I see them?”
Such a question allows the patient to determine what they want told without embarrassment. You could also ask, “How are things going here in the hospital?” She may tell you things about the hospital she likes and she may tell you things she does not like. Just listen. If she is not happy with the hospital do not tell her stories of bad experiences you have had with the hospital.
Don’t ask too many questions. You do not want the patient feeling like a witness on the stand in the courtroom!
Be sympathetic and hopeful if there are some negative things shared. If so, be ready to speak to the patient’s feelings, but do not overly amplify them. For example, “Martha” may tell you that she is sad she is not recovering more quickly. Let me give you an example of what you could say.
Example: “Martha, I am sorry to hear you are so disappointed in the progression of your recovery. Let me assure you that I will pray for God to give you peace and strength one moment at a time as you recover and that He will remind you that He will never leave you.”
Some Do’s and Don’t of Hospital Ministry
- Do not tell the patient of worse experiences you have had or heard of.
- Do not try to diagnose the patient’s condition.
- Do not stay too long. The patient needs rest.
- Speak pleasantly and firmly.
- Bring good news from the church and the community.
- Remember that you are a guest in this place. Follow hospital protocol.
- Witness by your friendly spirit, and as the Holy Spirit gives you an appropriate opportunity.
- Don’t be loud and boisterous.
- Don’t talk too much. Don’t sit on the bed or stand on tubes!
- Stand or sit where the patient can easily see and hear you.
- Don’t bump the bed.
- Don’t bring food or drinks into the room.
- Have fresh breath.
- Don’t make promises you cannot or will not keep.
- Keep confidences.
- Always speak positively of the Pastor, the staff, and the church.
- Ask if you can read Scripture and pray for the patient before you leave.
- If the patient has a roommate ask her to introduce you.
- Thank the other patient for allowing you to visit and ask if you can include her in your prayer.
- Leave your card or Church literature with the patient.
- Make sure it has your name printed on it along with contact information.
- As You Leave: Wash your hands!
- Thank any volunteers or hospital staff members who were helpful to you.
After the Visit: Report back to the church office with the results of the visit. Be clear and specific. Make sure you spell out any appropriate follow-up that is needed.
Possible Scriptures To Use When Making a Visit: