What is a church “care list”?

  • A “care list” is a tool for accomplishing two purposes: (i) it alerts church members of fellow-members who are in extra need of care or correction; (ii) it prepares a congregation for a possible case of public corrective discipline. Specifically, it’s a list of names which the church leaders announce to the church’s members.
  • Sometimes members undergoing special trials (medical, spiritual, vocational, and so on) need extra prayer and support. They might even ask to have their names included on the care list.
  • Yet the care list is also a useful way to present to the church’s attention anyone who is likely to be the subject of corrective discipline. When an individual has not repented of sin after several attempts at private admonishment, publicly placing his or her name on the care list is one way to “tell it to the church” (Matt. 18:17). Once the announcement is made, the congregation has the opportunity to lovingly pursue the unrepentant sinner.
  • Announcing possible cases of corrective discipline before calling for (or announcing) action gives a congregation the time to adjust to the news.
  • The care list need not—and probably shouldn’t—exist anywhere in written form. It’s simply an announcement.
  • Churches with different polities might announce the care list in different ways. The leaders of a congregational church might present the care list at a members’ meeting. The elders of an elder-ruled church might do so in some other (member only!) gathering.

 

(Some of this material has been drawn from The Deliberate Church by Mark Dever and Paul Alexander, 70-71)

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