Pastors are like information sponges. If they aren’t studying, they are receiving a regular deluge of information from church members. I asked twenty-two pastors to share with me the most common items they hear from their church members. In the past, this information came in the form of letters, in-person conversations, and telephone calls. The digital age has made emails, texts, and social media more common.
Eleven of the pastors were above the age of forty, so an equal number were under forty years old. Here are their top ten responses in order of frequency. Each response is followed by a quote from a representative pastor in the interview.
1. Requests for hospital visits and other visits to those who are ill. “If I said ‘yes’ to every one of these requests that I got, it would be a 60-hour a week job. I have to disappoint and even anger some folks, because I can’t get to everyone.”
2. Requests to attend events and meetings at the church. “I really wish I could be omnipresent. It seems like I’m supposed to be at every wedding, every church meeting, and every Sunday school class function. I do my best, but I sometimes disappoint some folks.
3. Criticisms. “The criticisms that bother me the most are those that begin with ‘I love you pastor but . . .’ The words that follow are usually anything but loving.”
4. Updates on someone’s health. “I have to say that I appreciate those in my church that keep me updated about how someone is doing. Now, some of them go overboard with the details, but it does help me set priorities to visit and call.”