Local pastor hopes to call younger generation of pastors to visit the sick

Communications Staff — September 9, 2009

It seemed almost natural for Brian Croft to write a book on ministering to the sick, but it took some encouragement from his pastoral interns.

Croft, who has served as senior pastor of Auburndale Baptist Church in Louisville for the past six years, is the son of a medical doctor who grew up being unwittingly prepared for local church ministry by his father.

William Croft has practiced as a family physician for more than 30 years in New Albany, Ind., where Brian Croft grew up. The elder Croft has made house calls throughout his career and as a boy, Brian often accompanied his father to watch him care for and minister to both the bodies and souls of the sick.

In addition to addressing their physical needs, his father would often painstakingly apply the healing balm of the Gospel to his patients and frequently gave them copies of resources such as Josh McDowell’s “More Than a Carpenter.” William Croft and his wife Mae are members of Clifton Baptist Church.

“My father is one of the only doctors I know who still occasionally does house calls,” Brian Croft said. “When I was a kid, in order to spend time with me, dad would take me with him on some of his home visits.

“I watched how significant a ministry a regular Christian man who was not a pastor could have by ministering to physically and spiritually hurting people in so many ways. I got to see at an early age the spiritual fruit that comes in those moments when people are having their eyes opened to what really matters in life. As I felt called to ministry, visiting the sick was a very natural thing for me.”

The younger Croft recently wrote a book, “Visit the Sick: Ministering God’s Grace in Times of Illness” (Day One), a unique work that provides a biblical and theological basis for, as the title implies, visiting the sick.

Croft, who has taken classes periodically at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said his book was born out of a desire to see young ministers not only preaching sound expositional sermons, but to live out the Gospel by visiting those who are infirm.

The book first took root in the mentoring of pastoral interns at Auburndale, some of whom would accompany Croft on his visits to hospitals and homes. They encouraged him to turn his informal teaching into a book.

“Pastors from my parents’ and grandparents’ generations knew how to visit and shepherd people,” Croft said, “but it is kind of a lost art in my generation. The reason I wrote this book was to call my generation of pastors back to this vital ministry and to give them a biblical foundation and practical tools to do it.”

“I’ll be the first to admit that a pastor who has been in ministry for 40 years would be a far more credible spokesperson for this subject, but I feel like there needs to be a voice in my generation to speak to my generation and to recover it. Part of the Word being central in the church is shepherding with the Word in the midst of the one-one-one situations when our people are hurting.”

The book includes a biblical and theological case for visiting the sick and also includes a chapter on practical considerations such as “Listen, don’t solve,” “prepare your heart” and “make eye contact.” The book’s practical theology is modeled after that of English Puritans such as Richard Baxter and great pastors such as C.H. Spurgeon.

“Visit the Sick” includes appendices on spiritual conversations and other topics. Mark Dever, who serves as pastor of Capital Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., and chairman of the board of trustees at Southern Seminary, wrote the forward. Brian’s brother Scott is a Washington, D.C., attorney who serves as an elder at CHBC.

“This kind of ministry does not replace the centrality of preaching the Word,” Brian said, “but is an important part of ministering the Word to the local congregation. I am thankful to see the resurgence of expositional preaching among young pastors and I hope they will also return to carrying out the Word’s practical implications.”

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