Pastoral care is a very broad term to describe the ways in which a church might respond to a member of the church experiencing "difficult and demanding times such as a critical illness or other traumas in life." The ways in which pastoral care may be extended to someone in such a situation vary depending upon the circumstances and needs of the individual.
A church community may assume the responsibility of helping with activities of daily living for the individual and/or his/her family by providing meals, extending help with child care, arranging for transportation to medical appointments, cleaning the house or doing the laundry, and other such activities. Members of the church might become primary caregivers, accompanying the member to medical appointments and assuming responsibility for coordinating administration of medications and other required procedures.
If an individual is newly bereaved, has sustained a significant loss through fire or natural disaster, or for other reasons needs emotional or psychological support, the church community may have within its resources counseling services or means to refer the individual to persons or places that can provide support. Church groups may become involved in providing replacement housing, furniture, clothing, and other items that may need to be replaced.
In all of its pastoral care activities, a Christian community will also be providing spiritual support, attempting to reassure the person receiving care of God's loving support and presence, even in the midst of hard events and times of need. By lifting the person in prayer and Christian love, those providing pastoral care witness to the love that Jesus Christ demonstrated and taught should be extended to all persons.