Why Are Ministers so Reluctant to Visit Their Parishioners?


I have observed a profound reluctance from pastors to routinely visit members of their church. I would welcome some responses from pastors. 

I don't understand it, particularly with the demise of the second service and all the recovered time that represents for the preacher. 

If the second service took 12 hours out of your week, you could do 6 visits during that 12 hours instead (not difficult). You could cover an average 100 family church within less than 20 weeks. What is so hard about that? Why enter the parish ministry if you are so reluctant to know each and every one of your families? How can you not want the homiletical material which the information from such visits could provide, not to mention the political capital you can build up for when things may get difficult for you.

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Thank you, John Tamming, for this provocative commentary. First of all, I'm not sure if the generalization can be demonstrated that pastors are reluctant to visit parishioners, though I DO know of some pastors who show such reluctance. In such cases, I share your perplexity. In my 27 years as sole parish pastor and preacher for churches ranging from 200 to 425 or so active members, with evening services for all those years, I would make about 8 to 10 pastoral visits a week in homes, work places, Tim Hortons or schools during noon breaks. (Btw, these do not include hospital visits). Most of the time it was a very good thing to leave the church building and study and engage with members (active or not). As you note, much sermon fodder (to be handled VERY carefully, of course) that grows in these visits. And, as you also comment, lots of political good will built up in those visits, even if that's hardly an exclusive reason to go visiting, 

But let's say your generalization is accurate. I won't make excuses for pastors and your point is well-taken that without an evening service, there is more time available. But this I do know: many pastors are basically shy people who have learned to be  as a good friend calls himself, "a professional extrovert." Still doing and being that is tiring for many of my colleagues and many of them find visiting hard; I never did. As well, as my years as a pastor increased, I found it harder and harder to do all I wanted and needed to do pastorally because meetings seemed to demand more time and preparation as years passed. There was much time dedicated to planning and strategizing, work that didn't come naturally for me, though I could and did do it as required.

Still, since I'm speaking only from my limited personal experience, I'd be interested if colleagues would comment on John Tamming's brief, edgy blog. Blessings and thanks again, John, for your contribution.