You have a great idea to share, suggestion to make, an urgent need to be met, hurt to be healed, or a special request to be prayed for. You are hoping to communicate this one-on-one with your pastor, and, the sooner the better. The question is, when is the best time to share it?
Let’s start with what may be the 3 WORST TIMES TO TALK TO YOUR PASTOR.
#1 – Before they preach. Your pastor’s mind is probably somewhere else, and for good reason. They will either not remember what you said or, worse, will be distracted from sharing God’s Word with all who will be listening and in need of the message.
#2 – After they preach. I would suggest that if your pastor focuses on anyone post-service, it should be guests. Whether informally in the isles or in an official “meet and greet” setting, the pastor should be focussed on those who are already forming their first impression. And, having just spoken for 20-30 minutes (some in multiple services) they are usually a little drained.
#3 – Late at night. Getting that late night phone call after a very long day is not on anyone’s top ten list of favorite things, especially when it is something that likely can wait. Offering pastoral care in emergencies is a sacred duty that most clergy embrace willingly. However, before calling about lesser matters, remember that family and personal time are at a premium for most people, your pastor included.
While most pastors try to see all interactions as “divine appointments,” it is easy for both unscheduled and scheduled appointments to get lost in the shuffle of ministry life. Here are the 3 best times to talk with your pastor…
#1 – When you have made an appointment. It isn’t that pastors are above an impromptu conversation in the hallway or a “pop by” at the office. The reality is that your pastor will be in a much more prepared position to meet with you if they have advanced notice. Believe it or not, they don’t automatically know what to say, let alone pray for every person and situation. And, you are probably not the only person seeking to “bend the ear” of your pastor. Make an appointment with their Executive Assistant or Secretary.
#2 – When someone more qualified isn’t available. While your pastor possesses a certain level of spiritual discernment and knowledge of the Word, they aren’t necessarily an expert in finance, relationships, vocational coaching, etc. Ask yourself, are there other staff members, elders or other professionals who may have devoted their lives to serving in my area of need? While your pastor will be happy to pray with you on just about any matter, they are likely not the most qualified person to address your need. Are you part of a small group? Perhaps your need can be met through the care provided through this close circle of friends?
#3 – When you have an actual emergency. Whether spiritual, relational, emotional, or physical (I suggest calling a doctor first), pastors are called to be there. Again, most pastors answer the call to care in the middle of the night, a “day off,” come back early from a vacation and more to be there for their church family. Of course, this is all-too-often at the expense of their own spouse and kids and, unless healthy boundaries are established, this leads to burnout, resentment and worse. But that is another post for another day.
Consider that only a small percentage of the “emergencies” may be actual crisis. The rest can wait for daylight, an appointment, or better yet, can be fielded by someone else who may, in fact, be more qualified to address it. Beyond that, call your pastor and/or make the contact through the appropriate channels and catch them at a better time for all as they seek to serve the Lord and lead your congregation.
What are your thoughts? How do you suggest people communicate needs to a pastor? Join in the discussion below!