We elevate who we celebrate in the church. When we gather with some or all from our congregation, we do so in order to worship God through praise, through gathering at his table, through learning, prayer, and service.
But periodically, we put a spotlight on some of his servants. This can include time during a worship service showing appreciation to a pastor, congregational prayer and blessing given to someone headed to the mission field, or a public expression of honor for those who’ve served the church, such as Vacation Bible School workers or those in the music ministry.
I’ve worshipped in many different kinds of congregations during the last four-plus decades, and I’ve never seen a congregation regularly honor its family caregivers. During the pandemic, there has been a renewed focus on praying for front-line workers – and may that continue! But I’m thinking of those who often find themselves in the shadows of congregational life, caring for aging parents, children with special needs, or grandchildren. Because of their responsibilities at home, many aren’t able to participate in worship services or small group gatherings.
There are at least 43 million unpaid caregivers right now in the U.S. It is more than likely you’ve got some people involved in a caregiving role in your own congregation. I’ve wondered why more congregations don’t see the caregivers and the family members for whom they’re providing care as integral to the mission of the congregation. If they’re considered at all, they’re often viewed as a ministry “project” instead of as a vital expression of the congregation’s life.
One way to begin changing those perceptions is by finding ways to bless caregivers in congregational gatherings. (Of course, doing so should also lead to creative ways to support those caregivers the other six days a week, too!) To that end, I’ve put together a list of a few resources you might wish to share with leaders in your own congregation so when you gather, you can slot some time to pray for and honor the caregivers in your midst.
Does your church support its caregivers well? If so, tell us how!