Here’s a question to make you think: Have you ever met with your Pastor outside of a Sunday service? Maybe not even the Pastor of your church now, but think back to growing up and possibly other churches you’ve been apart of, was there any form of relationship there with the Pastor or their spouse?
According to a study done by The Barna Group, they asked people if they met or talked to their Pastor outside of a weekly church service and an overwhelming majority of those asked – 80% to be exact – said no. Therefore, only 20% said they have or do meet with them currently.
Where Do You Land In All Of This?
So what about you? If you attend church regularly do you see yourself as even having the option to meet with your Pastor? It might not even be so much as you not wanting to, but I feel like a big part of those that said no don’t even have the ability to. Especially considering mega-churches, for example, and the fact that some people will never even speak to their Pastor face to face while attending some of these churches that have thousands of people in the congregation and hundreds on staff.
For some, that might stir up some discontentment, frustration, or even bitterness inside of you. We all crave connection, especially with those we’ve entrusted to be a guiding voice in our lives, and sometimes when that expectation is not met it can really create a negative mindset. Then what happens is sometimes we create an offense to the Church, or even God, as a whole.
Are Our Expectations Too High?
I feel that sadly this is what happened with a lot of those that are no longer in church or have walked away from their relationship with God. It all boils down to feeling like you belong and feeling connected, which is why so many churches rely on creating small groups for people to meet outside of the four walls of the church building. At the end of the day, the Pastor can not always meet with every single person that walks into the front door. As much as that is what people may want, it’s just not feasible.
I think the problem is that the expectation for Pastors is so high. They are expected to be pulled on and stretched thin and so when we hear that there is 80% that say they don’t meet with their Pastor outside of the church, does that invoke annoyance or understanding? What I think the Barna Group was trying to highlight, or rather what I hope, is that it is not abnormal to have a one on one relationship with the Pastor of your church. Not that it can’t happen, but when it does happen to be aware that it is a special and unique opportunity and shouldn’t be expected.
Put Ourselves In Their Shoes
70% of pastors do not have a close friend, confidant, or mentor according to a study about statistics concerning pastors that was done by multiple Christian organizations.
Let’s talk for a moment about the flip side of the coin. Maybe you’ve never even considered meeting or befriending your Pastor outside of a Sunday service. What if that’s what the rest of the church thought too? It is so easy for Pastors to be overlooked by the congregation and seen as someone who already has everything figured out and their relationships all in order, but that is rarely if ever the case!
If according to the study mentioned above, 70% of pastors don’t have a close friend, then that pulls on something in me to check in on my own Pastor. See how they really are doing, or if they need anything with no strings attached, just simply coming from the appreciation in your heart. We might need to be doing a better job as a congregation of not expecting our Pastor to be our friend before we can expect to be theirs.
An Exception To The Rule
I know I would be remiss if I didn’t touch on our own church pastor, Pastor Eddie Freeman of The Life Church. If anybody is one that you’ll see at a church member’s birthday party, the monthly men’s UFC night or even helping a family move across the country, it’s Pastor Eddie. Now, will I see him every single Saturday if I call him up? I hope not. I hope he is spending time with his kids and grandkids and getting filled the way he needs to, but do I know him to be a reliable face in the context of the community outside of the church’s four walls? Absolutely. That fact alone could make our church the exception to the rule.
In conclusion, I think there is something important to remember here. Our pastors are people, and they’re capable of failure, but they’re also equally as capable of going above and beyond our expectations of what we may think a pastor, or even a Christian, to be. So maybe you don’t see your pastor as your friend, but I think the thing that we need to at least say we can do is see our pastor as a person, just like we are.