Here’s a sample of a nightmare conversation with the new pastor.
You:Â Â Â Â Come in pastor, would you like something to drink?
Him:Â Â Â Yes, whatever you have is great.
You: (bringing in a glass) Soâ€¦ how does this conversation work? I mean, I’m not in trouble or anything, am I?
Him: No, not yet anyway. Ha-Ha. Ha.
You: (Staring vacantly out the window)
Him: Soâ€¦ umâ€¦. Do you have a relationship with Jesus?
You: Yes. We’re all good.
Him: (Staring vacantly out the window)
You: So, anything else?
Him:Â Â Â No, I think we’re done here.Â (Awkward silence).Â OK then, see you in church.Â And call me anytime, Iâ€™m here for you.
You: Great, see you in church.
Â I haven’t had any conversations like that here.Â And I’m sure glad about that!
Years ago I learned the truth of an old saying: “People don’t care what you know until they know you care.”Â That might not apply to surgeons and pilots, but it does hold some truth for pastors.Â It can be hard to hear a challenging sermon or a bold ministry vision from someone who you don’t really “get.”Â And it can be hard to call a pastor when you’re in need if you don’t have a relationship with him.Â That’s why I’ve been taking initiative to meet with you.Â I hope to meet with everyone at least twice before the summer is over.
Â I respect that you may have different responses to me taking the initiative like this.Â Some of you think: “Great!Â I love talking.Â This will be fun.”Â Others think: “Is he going to ask me personal questions I’m not ready to share about?”Â Here’s something it may help to know about me: I leave it to you to set the pace.Â Conversation usually unfolds naturally that way.Â I might ask about your family or work or hobbies, but what you share is your choice.Â Â Sometimes I get the sense that you want to go a little deeper, so I ask a question or two.Â I know it’s nice to have another person in your life who is interested and who listens well. Â Â Â
Over time I hope to get to know a bit about your heart.Â I’d like to understand what you hope for, and how those hopes are going.Â I’d like to hear about who Jesus is to you, and what your relationship feels like lately.Â Maybe you’ll share a bit about what hurts, and maybe we’ll discover some healing together.Â And I hope I can share a bit about who I am, too.Â I want you to know me.Â
I’ve contacted everyone in our church, and most of you I’ve met with already.Â If I haven’t, it may be because I don’t have your number.Â Please contact me if you haven’t heard from me yet.Â
Also, if you’re a woman, I can be just as available for you as for a man, but my policy is to try to have another person in proximity.Â Sometimes that’s referred to as the “Billy Graham policy” because he championed that practice. Â If that’s not possible at home or at church, let’s try a local establishment.
I want to invest in your life.Â And really, getting together once is only a start, so I’ll be calling again over the course of the summer.Â Let’s take this time to get to know each other.