I'm writing this short blog post as it's been on my mind for a while, and
it was confirmed that I should write it, when a photo of a "pastor's toolkit" appeared on a deacon's timeline.
The five things I have to offer are not necessarily five things that are the most theologically pertinent or indeed powerful, but simply five things that I have used that have been helpful in the last year.
Naturally things like a BIBLE, COMMON WORSHIP, a HOME COMMUNION set are handy too!
1. Holding crosses: these
little holding crosses are shaped to fit in the palm of your hand, they become a symbol of Christ's presence in situations where it is not possible for people to pray. When it feels like God is absent.
I buy these things in bulk, and I give them out in almost that bulk. They are available from charities that work with olive wood within Palestinian communities near Bethlehem. They are perfect for hospital visits. I give them to folk who are in difficult situations. This year I have given about forty of them out. And not just to Christians. Two instances are striking. One lady received one before going on a long-haul flight of which she was petrified. One lady received one when she was in intensive care. Next time I visited she was unconscious but the cross was firmly wedged in her hand. CHRIST IS PRESENT. The holding cross doesn't make him present, but it serves as a timely reminder.
2. A portable projector which has no need for a PC but accepts SD cards and USB flash pens:
A multi- media PICO PROJECTOR might sound like a bit of an extravagance (and it is), but I have used this thing endlessly.
As a new deacon I was invited to give talks and to go to house groups and give more talks and to the Methodists and give more talks. Meetings in churches, in lounges, in halls. Bringing your own technology to illustrate your words.
Also, alternative worship sessions. Contemplative prayer evenings. Have Holy Trinity icons on repeat. Watch beautiful movies in an informal cafe church setting. Log on to VIMEO and go crazy.
3. A fold up table:
A small one, about a foot square table surface is enough. I do home communions and communions in residential homes. Rather than making a mess and in the case of dementia care homes (from my experience) potentially causing distress, bring your own table. Mine resides permanently in my boot.
4. "Sorry I missed you" cards:
Postcards with a picture of the church on one side and a simple message saying something like, 'I called to visit' and your name and address and email and phone number. Leave some space where you can write messages. Get them printed professionally, challenge the culture of shoddy black and white church photocopying. Carry them and a pen with you.
5. A visits bag:
I have a bag which I use for visits. The reason I have A bag for visits, rather than a number of bags, is that it allows me to keep things in there permanently that I will often use on a visit. Things like, some pens, some Sorry i missed you cards, some holding crosses, a New English Hymnal, a New Testament with Psalms (given at deaconing), a Common Worship Pastoral services book. A fold up umbrella. Five pounds petty cash in change.
They are just suggestions...... but they've worked for me.