Make your call at a time to suit you, as well as the person you are calling. Avoid evening calls where possible.
Let other family members, house sharer’s know you are unavailable for this period.
Use the BT 141, or similar – to withhold or keep your personal number private.
Settle yourself in a quiet, comfortable space with a notepad and pen and perhaps a Bible or Prayer Book.
Offer the person a ‘timed appointment’. Advise them of the length of time you have, give it wholeheartedly. If you know you can give 10 or 20 minutes, the same attention & care applies.
Remember 45 minutes on the phone can feel the equivalent of an hour in the same room. Keep good boundaries of time for both person’s sake.
Great concentration is required when listening to ‘a voice’ only – turn off other distractions, other devices, close the laptop, do not cook the dinner!
Use open ended questions that encourage conversation if the person is very withdrawn e.g
When did you last get some fresh air? Who have you been in contact with? How are you sleeping?
Offer a little bit of your own story if this helps to ease the conversation – be mindful of the relationship you develop, care in order to empower, not to cause dependency.
Be prepared to listen, listen, listen. Listen to the silences – these may bring tears, or a word from God or peace or….
Pray – the offer of prayer is valuable, do not forget to offer it.
Keep Useful Telephone Numbers to hand – Samaritans, Mental Health Crisis, Domestic Violence, Cruse etc
Offer to add the individual to the Church Prayer Chain or similar as deemed suitable.
Make a further telephone appointment if this will be helpful – rather than waiting for crisis or unexpected calls.
Retain Confidentiality except for disclosures of harm to self or others, when normal safeguarding policy applies.
Make a few notes to help you with further conversations – store them securely between calls.
Give yourself sufficient rest time between calls. Even short calls can be exhausting – do something entirely different.
Audio Visual Ministry Tips – Additional
Make sure you are in a room or space that you are happy for your guest/contact to see, to be present with you.
Invite your guest to bring refreshment with them, just as you might offer a drink to a guest in your home.
Use of a candle that is lit as you begin may be helpful. Use of a handheld image/picture may aid as a prayer focus.
Try not to be flummoxed if ‘techy’ problems occur – arrange to meet again, or use a landline!
God is our Helper, but asking others to pray for us as we serve is helpful too…
Weep with those who weep and laugh with those who laugh Romans 12:15
A printable pdf version is available here.