door-knocker2There are no hard and fast rules about personal visitation in ministry. In essence, a personal visit is an extension of who you are as a person, a Christian and a ministry leader within the acceptable boundaries of a particular situation. If a relationship already exists, the visit builds on that relationship; if no relationship exists, the purpose of the visit is to establish a relationship. You are visiting to bring God’s blessing. With this in mind, be aware of the following:
• Don’t overstay the limits of time. For instance, are the people you have come to see about to have a meal? Do they have somewhere else they need to be at a certain time? In other words, know when to leave, and then leave as gracefully as possible.

• Be sensitive to others’ needs. Do the people appear to be ill or upset? Do you sense that they find it difficult or inconvenient to have a visitor in their home or place of work at this time? How appropriate is it to bring others with you on the visit?

• Avoid the appearance of impropriety. Much of this has to do with men being alone with women, adults with minors, arriving at an unusual time or in suspicious manner.

• A word about hospital visits: Be sensitive to those around the patient, such as family members, medical personnel, other patients, etc. You may have the best of intentions, but be sure what you say or do does not infringe on the rights of a nearby patient, the understandable feelings of family and friends, time limits set by the institution or family, or the duties of medical personnel.

• Remember that the purpose of your visit is ultimately to bring blessing to others, not primarily to achieve your personal agenda or cross the visit off your list of things to do. In order to focus on the blessing of others, you may want to read and/or apply appropriate scripture, pray for the patient and their loved ones, offer hope for recovery or challenge them in ways which may aid their recovery and foster a more beneficial lifestyle. It goes without saying that all of these things must be done with sensitivity and in ways designed to encourage and benefit the patient.

My own experience has taught me to talk about myself only insofar as it is a blessing for others to hear it. I have been reminded several times that in a hostile situation, Jesus teaching to bless and not curse and the best way to maintain relationship and pursue peace.

Always thank the people who hosted your visit for their time and courtesy. If the situation calls for it, you may want to make plans to contact them again.

Michael Bogart