Incarnational Pastoral Care

Course Outline & Assessment Information


Through this class students are expected to develop an understanding of, and competencies in regard to, the following areas of pastoral care and ministry:

  1. Develop an understanding and appreciation for the deep and vital theological underpinning of incarnational pastoral care and ministry.
  2. Read and show an understanding of what leading Trinitarian theologians and teachers have to say about participating in Jesus’ work of pastoral care and incarnational service.
  3. Understand the ramifications of Christ as the source and centre of all service, teaching and leadership.
  4. Students will learn about “incarnational”, gracious and Spirit led ways of participating in various roles of service within the body of Christ; including serving those at different life stages and with varying needs.
  5. Have an understanding of the various life stages and helping people with the varying challenges and opportunities each stage can present.
  6. Be aware of the issues involved with ministering to troubled individuals and dealing with cases of abuse, neglect or unethical behavior.
  7. An understanding should be developed of the vital part discipleship, mission and outreach play in the life and role of a local church community.
  8. Understand and develop skills facilitating congregational meetings and small group activities.
  9. Be able to help with the identification and ongoing development of the gifts of all members, including future leaders
  10. Appreciate the need for, and be able to work towards forming a proactive plan for preventing burn out, or being caught up in a self-focused or programmatic approach to Christian ministry. Students will be encouraged to see themselves as privileged and beloved participants along with the rest of the body in the life and work of Jesus Christ.

Brief Description

This course builds upon the work we have done in previous classes. In particular, it fits side by side with the Christian Leadership class. As the Christian Leadership class brings out, Christian leaders are called to a new, Christ-centred way of leading. In this class we are focused on the theological realities and underpinnings of Christian service and pastoral care and various aspects of day to day "incarnational" pastoral care and ministry.

We will start by considering what "incarnational ministry" is all about and its foundation in the life of God; particularly our sharing in the ongoing ministry of Jesus Christ through the leadership and support of the Holy Spirit. We will then look at various aspects of pastoring local congregations, including caring for and nurturing those in need, visiting the sick (including the terminally ill) and helping those dealing with grief and bereavement.

Pastoring includes congregational planning and leadership, so we will look at ways of enhancing community decision-making, including facilitating meetings and small groups. Students will be asked to interview an experienced pastor or carer to see what can be learned from their experiences in leading and caring for others.

Time will be spent considering ways of handling the challenges some troubled members can present to congregational life, including anger, abuse, addictions and other negative behavioural issues. We will look at how we pastor members at different life stages, including children, youth and the elderly. Another section will focus on various aspects of church life, including being a worshipful community, the church calendar, prayer, hospitality and fellowship. The discipling of new members and encouraging all to grow in their unique gifts and role in the church community will be discussed. We will look outwards in a section on mission and outreach and finally to the future as we consider the benefits and importance of caring for ourselves and other leaders in the interests of a healthy and ongoing incarnational ministry in our local congregations.

There will be a number of books and articles to read and reflect upon. We would like you to purchase or borrow two or more of the following texts as follows:



CLASS 1: Towards a Trinitarian Theology of Incarnational Ministry and Pastoral Care

CLASS 2: The Life of Christ and the Spirit in the Church

CLASS 3: Facilitating and Leading

CLASS 4: Caring for and Nurturing those in Need

CLASS 5: Church Life

CLASS 6: Mission and outreach

CLASS 7: Taking Care of yourself and other leaders


Texts and Supporting Materials

There will be a number of books and articles to read and reflect upon. We would like you to purchase or borrow two or more of the following texts as follows:

List 1: Theology of Ministry (Choose 1)

  • Dancing in the Dark, The Privilege of Participating in the Ministry of Christ, Graham Buxton, Paternoster Press
  • The Resurrection of Ministry, Andrew Purves, IVP
  • Ministry in the Image of God, The Trinitarian Shape of Christian Service, Stephen Seamands, IVP
  • Participating in God, A Pastoral Doctrine of the Trinity, Paul S. Fiddes, Westminster John Knox Press

List 2: Pastoral Care (Choose 1)

  • God’s Love in Action, Pastoral Care for Everyone, Jill McGilvray
  • Caring for God's People, A Handbook for Elders and Ministers on Pastoral Care, Matthew and Lawson, Saint Andrew Press
  • Community and Growth, Jean Vanier, Paulist Press, NJ

List 3: Other recommended Reading

  • The Crucifixion of Ministry, Andrew Purves, IVP
  • The New Reformation, Returning the Ministry to the People of God, Greg Ogden, Zondervan
  • Church Next, Eddie Gibbs & Ian Coffey, IVP
  • Calling Christian Leaders, John Stott, IVP
  • Lead With Your Strengths, John McLean & Peter Kaldor, NCLS
  • Missional God, Missional Church: Hope for Re-evangelising the West, Ross Hastings, IVP
  • Calendar: Christ's Time for the Church, Laurence Hull Stookey, Abingdon Press
  • Christian Counselling: A Comprehensive Guide, Gary R. Collins, Ph.D, Thomas Nelson
  • The Wounded Healer: Ministry in Contemporary Society, Henri J. M. Nouwen, Doubleday
  • Gospel, Church, and Ministry, Thomas F Torrance Collected Studies I, Thomas F. Torrance, Jock Stein, Editor, Pickwick Publications
  • Making Peace: A Guide to Overcoming Church Conflict, Jim Van Yperen, Moody Press
  • I Don’t Know What to Say... How to Help and Support Someone Who is Dying, Dr. Robert Buckman, MacMillan/Vintage

 These texts can be purchased from most online bookstores (we recommend Book Depository which offers free shipping) or from select Christian book retailers. 



Assessment 1: Book Review

  • Write a book review on one of the books you have chosen from the required reading list. Include what you found to be the most helpful points. Give personal reflections on how what you have read impacts on your own role in your congregation. (500+ words)

Assessment 2: Incarnational Ministry

  • John 13-17 What do we learn about pastoral care and ministry from Jesus' words? (500+ words)

Assessment 3: Learning From Others

  • Interview two experienced Pastors or Christian carers
  • Ask the following questions (you may want to record the interview and then write out the answers, or have them write the answers themselves):
    1. What are three things you wish you'd known about pastoring at the very beginning?
    2. What have you found to be the most challenging aspect of pastoring?
    3. What have you found to be the most rewarding aspect of pastoring?
    4. Do you have any advice for time management?
    5. Do you have any tips for dealing with negative or divisive members?
    6. Ask two or more questions of your own.

Assessment 4: Pastoral Care

  • What have you learned from this class and your experiences working with people with difficulties in their lives?
  • Include two examples from your own experience, either as a giver or receiver of care.
  • (500+ words total)

Assessment 5: Facilitating And Leading

  • Put together a short guide for leading healthy community meetings or small groups by making a list of 10 key pointers based on this chapter (add your list to the class Forum) (200-400 words, 1 page).



More about the Lecturer, Phillip Hopwood.

Grading System

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Class Notes - Conventions

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