Diocese of ChichesterDiocese of Chichester

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Parish pastoral care

A course for clergy to use in the parish

Summary of Course

Pastoral care is the responsibility of all Christians and a good lay pastoral care team should enable effective development of pastoral care within a parish. Potential team members need to be equipped for this work. The course is designed to enable mutual discernment about whether this is the best area of ministry for an individual to be involved in. It begins with a session exploring the Biblical and theological underpinning of pastoral care before moving on to develop a working knowledge of the fundamental helping skills that are necessary for participants to be an effective member of a Pastoral care team.

The Aim

To prepare lay people to work in a helping capacity in a Parish Pastoral Care Team by exploration of the theological basis of pastoral care and with a variety of relevant helping skills.

Pre-requisites for participating on the course 

  • Invitation to attend the course from the incumbent, endorsed by the PCC
  • Completion of the course

Pre-requisites for becoming a member of a pastoral care team

  • Mutual discernment during the course with a discussion between the individual and the incumbent before a decision is made. Participating on the course does not imply automatic membership of a pastoral care team. Decisions will be taken about team membership towards the end of the course
  • An Enhanced CRB check will be needed before a person can begin to exercise ministry as part of the team
  • Previous attendance at Diocesan Foundation level Safeguarding Training or attendance within one year of team commissioning

Commissioning of the team

Upon successful completion of the course, and following a discussion about suitability for this ministry with potential team members, the team (as a whole – not individual members of it) may be commissioned during parish worship by the incumbent to work in a voluntary capacity under the authority of the parish priest who shares the cure of souls in the parish with the bishop.

The Structure of the Course

The course comprises nine sessions of approximately 2 hours allowing ten minutes for gathering and refreshments beforehand. Each session will begin and end with a short act of worship. The nine sessions are:

  1. Introduction to the course - Reflecting God’s life and Jesus’ ministry
  2. Interpersonal skills: Understanding communication
  3. Interpersonal skills: Listening attentively
  4. Interpersonal skills: Using helping skills
  5. Being Trustworthy
  6. Boundaries and limitations of the Pastoral Care Team
  7. Making pastoral visits
  8. Praying with and for People
  9. Moving forward as team

Leading the course

The course can be led by the incumbent or a suitably qualified and experienced lay person. If someone other than the incumbent leads the course, it will be important for the incumbent to be present at the beginning of the first and throughout the last session.

Suggested session structure

  • Gathering – meet, chat, coffee
  • Opening Worship
  • Focus on session topic
  • Prayer and reflection

Teaching and learning strategies

  • There is some teacher input – indicated in the notes, intended to inform and stimulate learner activities
  • Learner activities including discussion and group work, role play activities, and reflection
  • Participants are encouraged to keep a reflective learning journal throughout the course, completing a short reflective task between sessions.
  • The course notes are designed to be given as handouts to participants. Additionally optional ideas for further resources are provided and some PowerPoint presentations will be provided but use of these is optional.


For further information please contact the Apostolic Life Team by email or telephone 01273 425011.