Pastoral care (7): one student, many teachers

Who cares about the children? Who is responsible for their religious upbringing? Many, Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider says. A look at love, responsibility, and the structures of the Church.

In the year 400 BC, Plato, through Socrates, called his contemporaries to epimeleia tés psyché, that is, to “care for the soul”. The Greek philosopher wanted them to care for more than just their earthly well-being and honour. After all, the soul is immortal, unlike the natural body. It is in this connection that pastoral care, as the word is used today, is understood in a very first context (“Religion in Geschichte und Gegenwart”, Jürgen Ziemer).

Support and instruction

Pastoral care is not only a support and a companion in difficult situations, but is also characterised by teaching, guidance, and role models. The aim of pastoral care is to help prepare people for natural and spiritual challenges and situations – this is the objective of pastoral care, which is driven by love and consideration for one’s neighbour. And it is not tied to a ministry, but is the task of the entire congregation (cf. Catechism of the New Apostolic Church CNAC 12.4.1).

This becomes particularly apparent in the area of religious instruction, which forms part of the religious upbringing of young members of the Church.

Teamwork by ministers, teachers, and the families

The parents are responsible for the religious upbringing of their children, Chief Apostle Schneider recently pointed out, adding that this is not a question of teaching the children the do’s and don’ts, but rather “our firm conviction: Jesus Christ is good for you; the gospel is good for you. This is something that only parents can convey”. Under no circumstances should parents shirk this responsibility or specify the Church as solely responsible for this. Mothers and fathers bear witness to this obligation in the sacramental act of Holy Baptism.

Parents are not left alone with this task but receive support from the teachers and the various religious instruction offers by the Church. It is probably the children who receive the most pastoral care through ministers and teachers.

Comprehensive instruction by the Church

“Church instruction provides guidance for our children and adolescents in leading their lives in awareness of their responsibility before God. The cultivation of fellowship and the feeling of belonging is an important objective,” it says in chapter of the Catechism. And the Church is doing a lot in providing a good foundation for young believers in pre Sunday School, Sunday School, religious instruction, and confirmation classes.

Chief Apostle Schneider made it clear to the teachers that their task is not “only to tell children about biblical events from the past, but to help the children develop a close relationship to their heavenly Father today and in the future”. The work of teachers and ministers can thus support the parents in bringing up their children. This kind of teamwork will help children and young people develop into strong believers and joyful Christians.

Photo: Jürgen Priewe -

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Oliver Rütten
Doctrinal instruction, Congregational life