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I don't want to be insensitive but often on Sundays the same few people seem to "corner" the pastor at the front of church and "tie" him up for several minutes. I think it is important to have him be able to get out to the lobby and greet others, guests, etc. Any suggestions on how to address this?


Here's an option: sing a doxology after the benediction, during which the pastor has the opportunity to walk out of the sanctuary and get out into the lobby before being cornered. Note that the same people will probably rush to get to her or him. Before doing this, though, ask the pastor what she or he thinks about this (or any other) plan - remember, the pastor has just expended a ton of energy and may need some time to decompress with closer friends/family.  

I think Chuck Adams' suggestion is a good one. We still have an Elder come to the front of the church after the blessing and during or after the doxology, and shake hands with the pastor. Then they both head to the back of the church for the hand-shaking line-up with the people in the congregation. Because there's always a line up to get out of the sanctuary with people shaking the pastor's hand, and the pastor then being able to greet (almost) everyone, no one wants to take the pastor's time right then. Then, after the hand-shaking is done, the pastor goes to the fellowship hall and gets a coffee, and if people still want to corner him, well, at least he's had a chance to say "hello" to almost everyone already.

A couple of thoughts - as a pastor and as someone who has worked with others in similar situations - navigating a crowd is really difficult. Things that I do personally: I go into the fellowship hall with a plan. I try to make sure I see 3-4 specific different people each week and I figure out who they are beforehand. Even when you are seeing the same people - it's good to have a mission and a reason to leave a conversation a little early. Disentangling from a conversation can be difficult and sometimes it's useful to have someone watching who can join in on a conversation and relieve your pastor - ushers and elders can be really useful here - especially if the same people are known to dominate Sunday morning time. The third thing I do is know my schedule for the coming week so that I can schedule appointments. Sunday morning can be an outstanding introduction to later conversations in the week. Ultimately - it's about planning. With a plan you don't have to ignore your regulars or neglect those who are less forward. 

I read a hint somewhere many years ago that has helped me immensely. I make it a habit to be one of the last two or three people to leave the building after church each Sunday. That allows those who may be less forward to linger and know they will have a chance to talk with me. Like Daniel Brown I have my calendar with me so I can schedule follow up contact if needed. But I have found it saves a lot of work over the following week. Often people have questions that can be quickly answered, and there is nothing further that needs to be done.

First I would remind elders and deacons to make sure they are meeting and greeting visitors, new members and those who are standing by themselves. That should be priority one after and before the service. I think the pastor should be free to engage deeply and pray for those who were touched during the teaching of the Word. It is good to end a message and service with an invitation to pray.  The pastor can join the prayer team up front and then, after those divine appointments are met, then the pastor can be free to join in the connecting with as many as possible. I think it is impressive and productive when the pastor is greeting people before the service.   I really like and desire prayer with the elders and or worship team before the service.  but I favor dispensing with the "council meeting" before the service. Usually it is a polite sitting around and 30 seconds before the service is to begin, someone looks at a calendar to decide whose turn it is, and then there is a short prayer. Much better, I think, if all these leaders would be out meeting, greeting and ministering to the people. 

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