Thursday, September 20, 2012

Note to Pastors

The wording varies but a little, depending on the pastor and the setting.

"Great to see you! Let's have coffee soon."

I haven't kept track in a ledger somewhere, so I don't have an actual count. Nevertheless, I've heard this phrase more than a few times from pastors that I've known over the years.

I used to look forward to the possibility, thinking that perhaps the pastor who uttered these words would actually follow through. A few of those times, I really had something on my mind that I wanted pastoral insight and wisdom into.

And then -- nothing.

Radio silence. The same sound you get when you hold an empty seashell to your ear (and no, that's not the sound of the ocean you're hearing).

Eventually, I learned to counter the phrase by responding, "I'd love to. What day works best for you?" And then watch them stumble all over themselves to avoid being trapped into actually setting a time and place. "Send me an email" was the usual delaying tactic.

Just to do my fair share, I would send an email, although my expectations gradually became lower.

Of course, not all pastors are like that. I've enjoyed some great times over coffee with pastors. You have demonstrated genuine 'pastoral care' and personal interest. If only you represented "normal".

Perhaps it's because of these positive pastoral coffee experiences that I feel strongly enough to make the following suggestion:
If you say "let's do coffee soon", MEAN IT.
Or don't say it.
Either option is acceptable. (And to those pastors who say it, mean it, and do it, thank you. It means more than you may realize.)


  1. Hi Rob,

    I agree with your options. Nothing wrong with expecting these guys to be honest. However I think the other side to this issue is what we expect of these guys. We assume these guys are to be the primary caregivers and shepherds of the flock. But if the flock is larger than 12, we are asking more of them than what Jesus even took on. I think there should be many people caring for others. Some will be more gifted than others, and they can lead by example of what it means to shepherd, so that all believers can learn to care for others and build others up to become more like Christ.

  2. Once upon a lifetime ago, I myself was a pastor. :)

    I understand the unrealistic expectations that can be placed on pastors. No argument from me on that one. It's strange, as you pointed out, that people don't seem to get that the Body is more diverse than that.

    I'm just sayin': don't promise coffee, if you can't deliver.