Jun 28, 2023 Print This Article

Dear alumni

A centurion. A leper. A paralytic. A demon-possessed man. A widow with a dead son. Bartimaeus. Zacchaeus. Mary. Nicodemus. Jesus spoke to crowds but also gave His attention, time and care to individuals. He sought out single “lost sheep” to call them to repentance, faith and eternal life.

In the film “O Brother, Where Art Thou,” over-the-top character Pappy O’Daniel, a corrupt southern politician, is entering a radio station, gleeful at the prospect of connecting with his “constichency” over the airwaves. One of his advisors mentions that he should be spending more time out shaking hands, but Pappy retorts, “We ain’t one-at-a-timin’ here. We’re MASS communicatin’!”

Some of the most important moments of pastoral ministry involve “one-at-a-timin.’” Being present in people’s lives, bringing Christ’s hope and promises into living rooms, hospital rooms, workplaces, front porches and so forth. This is beautiful work. It exhibits the loving care of our Savior Himself.

Earlier this year, I read a wonderful little book titled Pastoral Visitation for the Care of Souls. I was so struck by the wise encouragement and practical advice in this book that I recently ordered copies as a gift for some of our students. Tucked into the cover, I placed the following note:

Greetings in the name of Jesus, who has sought you out, carried you in His arms, and kept and tended you as His own dear lamb! Greetings in the name of Jesus, who knows you by name, who knows your every need, who numbers the very hairs on your head, and who prays to the Father for you day and night! Greetings in the name of Jesus, who has called you to know and love and shepherd others in His name!

I thank God for you, brother, as you begin pastoral ministry at your first call. We at Concordia Seminary are proud to have had a hand in forming and equipping you. We rejoice to see you being ordained and stepping into ministry. We pledge to pray for you and do all we can to encourage you along the way.

As a part of that encouragement, I am sending along this personal gift, a little book by my good friend, St. Louis pastor and Seminary Regent Rev. Tyler Arnold. Pastoral Visitation will energize and guide you in the vital work of entering the homes and lives of the people God has entrusted to your spiritual care. I cannot overstate the importance — and the blessing — of such visitation. I hope you will read it. And I pray that you will be diligent in connecting with your people: one soul, one family, one visit, one prayer at a time.

I also recently recorded a half-hour interview with Pastor Arnold about visitation. You can access it at concordiatheology.org.  

Friends, I encourage you to get hold of and read this book. I encourage you to be active in visitation. The Lord Jesus Himself will never cease walking beside you and seeking after you, His beloved one, until the day when you see Him face to face. Thanks be to God!

Love in Christ,

Thomas Egger