Member Care Orientation: A “Fire Prevention” Leaning

A Common Theme
When I engage organizational leaders and the subject of “member care” comes up, I often ask them what they mean by that phrase. Usually I hear some variation of “member care is what is applied when people are in crisis or otherwise struggling.” In other words, member care providers are often seen as fire fighters. “My team is imploding! Call 911 and get the member care people in here and fix this mess!” That may be overstating it, but not always.img_2677

Yes, responding to crisis is a crucial and essential element of some facets of member care. There are tremendous needs for clinical care, crisis debriefings, conflict resolution, and various interventions. I have provided such care and refer people to these sorts of care frequently.

Yet, there is more to member care than putting out fires.

A Preventative And Developmental Orientation 
The core of my philosophy of care is bent toward preventative and developmental care. Here are some questions to cultivate such an orientation:

  • How can we facilitate spiritual vibrancy in profoundly demanding environments so that communion with God deepens even as adversity remains?
  • How can emotional resiliency be fostered so that we are more aware of our internal world, intentionally tending to ourselves, and becoming more resistant to burnout and other similar ailments?
  • How can community, vibrant singleness, strong marriages, and cohesive families be nurtured in the context of various levels of conflicting tensions?
  • What resources must be allocated and released to further professional competencies that might allow for greater fruitfulness?
  • Pruning is an act of restraint. God restrains and binds us that we do not grow into an unfruitful mass. How can we respond in faith, hope and rest in God’s goodness when we are faced with various kinds of restraints in our journeys?
  • What stage of life are you in and what are the core developmental questions being asked? How can one be mentored in those areas so as to join God in his redemptive and developmental work?
  • What is being done to identify emerging leaders and intentionally develop them?

The list of questions goes on. Shifting our thinking from member care as “fire fighting” to primarily “fire preventing” can go a long ways in increasing personal vibrancy, professional fruitfulness and organizational health. In the end field retention is increased as well.

What percentage of your work week is allocated to crisis/need response versus developmental efforts? In what ways could you shift toward more developmental focuses?

What is the philosophy or understanding of member care in your organization or personal ministry? If needed, how could a  shifted be made so that greater resources are set aside for development of staff?

How can you be an advocate for preventative care in your circles of influence? I have found the greatest way is to not preach on it but primarily do it. After time (maybe years), the culture shifts and a greater request for that sort of work is voiced.

In the end, we will always need “emergency rooms” in a fallen world. Yet “preventative medicine” can go a long way in reducing that need.

This is a profoundly simple introduction on the subject. What are you finding helpful as you develop others? What trainings or resources do you utilize? By sharing we can develop one another. Thanks!

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4 Responses to Member Care Orientation: A “Fire Prevention” Leaning

  1. dave106 says:

    Well, for starters (and this may be a bit simplistic) but I start with practicing pre-emptive care on myself. Too often those outside the circle of “professional” care providers assume that they are not qualified to help, that they don’t have anything of value to offer. I try to emphasize the unique contribution they make to the body of Christ, their capacity to glorify God like no other created being can. By BEING what God designed them to be, and then functioning out of that, they have ability to help missionaries in ways they may never have dreamed.


    • Scott S says:


      Thank you for your thoughts. Your comment is not overly simplistic at all. It is core to the Word. Its easy for us to get all wrapped up in our “professionalism” thinking the typical person in the church pew doesn’t understand my world and has nothing much to offer. Some of my greatest encouragers are guys who work the auto assembly lines in Detroit and teach 3rd graders in Colorado Springs. Thanks for sharing. SS (see you at PTM!)


  2. Nancy Mauger says:

    Scott, I just translated this blog post into Spanish for our member care team here in Costa Rica. If you think it would be useful for you in serving others, I’ll send you a copy if you tell me where to send it.


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