1. "Pure religion ... is this, to visit" (James 1:27).
2. Parable of the Lost Sheep. "Doth he not leave the ninety and nine and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray?" (Matt. 18:12).
3. "Our Saviour went from house to house, healing the sick, comforting the mourners, soothing the afflicted speaking peace to the disconsolate" (Gospel Workers, p. 188).
4. "I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God." "I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly and from house to house" (Acts 20:26, 27, 20).
5. "Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled" (Luke 14:23).
6. "When a minister has presented the gospel message from the pulpit, his work is only begun. There is personal work for him to do. He should visit the people in their homes" (Gospel Workers, p. 187).
7. "To my ministering brethren I would say, by personal labor reach the people where they are. Become acquainted with them. This work cannot be done by proxy" (Ibid, p. 188).
8. "Those who labor for God have but just begun the work when they have given a discourse in the desk. After this comes the real labor, the visiting from house to house, conversing with members of families, praying with them, and coming close in sympathy to those whom we wish to benefit" (Testimonies, vol. 3, p. 558).
9. "Many ministers dread the task of visiting; they have not cultivated social qualities, have not acquired that genial spirit that wins its way to the hearts of the people. Those who seclude themselves from the people are in no condition to help them" (Gospel Workers, p. 338).
I. Kinds of Visits Required of an Elder
A. Sick calls.
1. In hospital.
a. Routine visits, especially before surgery.
b. Be brief stay only a few minutes.
c. Avoid discussing patient's illness. (Get information desired from family or the doctor.)
d. Be cheerful but always serious-minded,
e. Speak of pleasant things; inspire courage and hope,
f. Pray quietly before leaving. Be specific in prayer and make it brief. (Remember roommate if there is one.)
2. Home visits to the sick.
a. Shut-ins and aged (an occasional visit will encourage),
b. When the baby comes (an opportunity for a good spiritual call),
c. People with colds, flu, et cetera, do not expect a pastoral visit unless there are complications.
B. Soul-sick calls.
1. Weak members. (Anyone who does not attend Sabbath school or church services is weak.)
2. Backsliders. After visiting during the week, be sure to make a call on Sabbath for a public commitment to Christ. In every congregation there are souls who are hesitating, almost decided to be wholly for God (Gospel Workers, p. 151).
C. General membership visitation.
1. Avoid close social contacts. (Beware of too much boating, golfing, etc.)
2. Always remember your sacred responsibility as a spiritual leader every time you visit a home.
3. Do not alienate yourself from a part of your church by catering to a few.
4. Make EVERY call spiritual. (Of course one will speak of things of common interest, but they will lead to those matters that are sublime.)
5. Be full of courage and cheerful, but never a jester. A minister has no place telling silly jokes. It will tax his spiritual ingenuity to lead the family to a deeper Christian experience. Foolish talking, nor jesting "let it not be once named among you" (Eph. 5:3, 4).
6. Never leave a home without praying with the family.
7. Be careful not to use all time visiting church members. God has other sheep to be brought into the fold.
D. Bible school interests.
E. Visitors at Sabbath school and church.
F. Relatives of Adventists: chances are they have our literature and have probably attended some meetings.
G. New believers. Wean them but not too quickly. Encourage them in some missionary activity.
II. Dividing the Visitation Time
A. Do not try to see every member every month.
1. Soon one will be nursing a few weak members while many others are starving.
2. See them at Sabbath school, church service, prayer meeting, AYS meeting, et cetera.
B. Save a big block of your time for evangelistic calls.
C. Always have one or two regular studies in progress-personally.
1. One is then able to encourage others to give studies.
2. It is good for one's own soul. Keeps the heart warm.
III. How Church Members Can Help With the Visitation Program
A. Divide the church list among the elders of the church. Type the name and address of each family on a small card. Divide the number geographically or in some other natural way among the elders. Each elder is to be personally responsible for the spiritual watchcare of those families he has been assigned.
B. Encourage the deacons and deaconesses to call on each home in the church at least once a year. Make every call spiritual.
C. Friendship teams.
1. Young people, or older, can go two by two to call on all the neighbors in the city just a warm, friendly visit.
2. Divide territory into sections of approximately 100 homes each and assign one section to each team each year.
D. Visiting new members.
1. First week after baptism or transfer.
a. Send name to a church elder,
b. If several names, divide them among the elders.
2. Second week, send the new name(s) to the Sabbath school department. Names can be divided at a Sabbath school council meeting.
3. Third week, send the same name(s) to the home missionary department. Encourage new member(s) to engage in some missionary work.
4. Fourth week, send the same name(s) to the deacons and/or deaconesses. This, too, should be a spiritual visit.
5. The form letters for all these visits can be mimeographed to save a lot of time.
IV. Office Visits
A. Every church should have a neat, though small, office.
B. Have certain hours when the pastor is available.
C. Home offices are not advisable.
D. Finally, see the people. No substitute for personal visitation.
Roy B. Thurmon wrote this article when he was postering a church in Collegedale, Tennessee.