Calling our brethren on the phone and visiting them, is
one of the most important things we can do to encourage
them, especially if they are sick, lonely, or homebound.
In this article, I want to focus on a few things to remember
when calling and visiting brethren.
Just Do It!
It can be difficult getting over the fear of doing something
new, if we're not accustomed to calling and visiting brethren.
We can become paranoid about what we'll say or do, perhaps
wondering if something will happen that we can't handle.
Realistically, though, calling and visiting brethren is
one of the simplest and most fun things you'll do in service
Sometimes we don't allocate our time to allow for calling
and visiting during the day or early evening. Sometimes
we get ready to call someone and look at the clock, only
to see that it's too late. Personally, to help overcome
this problem, I use a free online calendar that sends time-sensitive
messages to my phone so I remember to call and visit.
You May Have To Force Yourself
To get started, you might have to force yourself to pick
up the phone and call. Then you might have to force yourself
to visit. But the important thing is that you do it, and
get into the habit of doing it.
When I need a little motivation to call and visit, I try
to imagine what it's like to be stuck at home, wanting someone
to call or visit. I tell myself, "If I visit others while
I'm healthy, maybe someone will visit me when I'm sick and
When Should You Call
As brethren, we usually know one another well enough to
know a time that's likely convenient for calling and visiting.
It can't be too early or too late. You might call after
school but not during dinner. You might call after dinner
but not at bedtime. But above all, it's better to call and
interrupt someone who is lonely and homebound, rather than
not call at all.
It's also good to call on special days: birthday, anniversaries,
etc. Brethren who have lost loved ones usually appreciate
(and need) these calls on special days -- days that usually
make them sad.
What Should You Expect To Talk About?
Don't expect to talk about anything -- just call to say
hello, and let the conversation flow naturally.
You may want to have a few things in mind to stimulate
conversation, if the person you're calling feels like talking.
But don't worry about having a litany of topics to discuss.
Just make sure gossip, and the like, doesn't enter into
Tips For Visiting Brethren
It's always good to call before visiting. This prevents
wasting your time and resources driving to a person's house
to learn they aren't there. By calling in advance, you can
also ask if they feel like having visitors.
Once you schedule a visit, try to keep the appointment
unless it's absolutely necessary to cancel. People who are
sick and homebound get their hopes up when they know someone
is coming to see them. If you schedule the appointment and
then cancel, it's very disappointing.
Let them know how long you can stay, especially
if you have a tight schedule and can only stay a few minutes.
This way, they won't get their hopes up and expect you to
visit longer than you can, and they won't be disappointed
when you have to leave quickly. Along this line of thought,
also give them a little warning before you have to leave.
Don't worry about what you'll talk about or what you'll
do -- just go. Most of the time, you'll just chitchat.
Sometimes you'll talk about the Bible, the church, or God.
Be confident that you can deal with whatever may come up,
even if you have to say "I don't know" or "I don't know
how." Just be a good friend in Christ, and everything else
will work out.
Try to encourage them spiritually while you visit.
As you get to know them better, you'll feel more at ease
and confident. You can encourage them by bringing up things
they do well, and talking about the ways they encourage
others. You can talk about analogies from the Bible that
may be similar to their circumstances (e.g., Job regarding
people who are suffering with illness). But the thing that
is most encouraging is your presence, even if you don't
say anything and just watch television together.
If you ask if there's anything you can do while visiting,
you'll usually get a "no" answer. So you'll have to look
for things you can do. You can pick something off the
floor, replace a light bulb, take out the trash, etc. You
don't have to ask if you can do these things, just do it.
It's usually good if you take someone with you
when visiting, just as Jesus sent the disciples out in pairs.
First of all, the visit will be more edifying if two people
visit than just one, especially if you take one of your
kids with you; the elderly and homebound love for the young
to visit. Second, you can help train others in the art of
visiting by taking them with you. Third, it helps you remain
above reproach if you take someone with you, when you are
visiting someone who lives alone and is a member of the
opposite sex (e.g., I would visit a longtime member who
is an elderly woman by myself, but I wouldn't visit a young
female Bible student alone).
Often times, we must schedule our personal work for the
Lord, just like everything else that's important (e.g.,
church, work activities, doctor appointments, vacations,
etc.). If we don't, we'll never get around to it.
Once we schedule our personal work, and make ourselves
accomplish the tasks, we have to let it become a habit.
Calling and visiting brethren to encourage them is a part
of who we are, more than just what we do.
You may be doing an excellent job encouraging brethren
who are sick and homebound, but all of us can improve in
our service to God. Let's consider what we can do, individually
as God's children, to help one another get to heaven, and
encourage those of our congregation who are sick, lonely,
and going through difficult trials of life.
Remember James, who says, "Pure and undefiled religion
in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans
and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained
by the world" (Jas. 1:27).