Pastor, We Need to Talk – The Top 10 Things Your Church Will Tell You

Pastors are like information sponges. If they aren’t studying, they are receiving a regular deluge of information from church members.

I asked 22 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 40, so an equal number were under 40 years old.

Here are their top 10 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 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.”

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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 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.”

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Thom Rainer
Thom S. Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources ( Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and six grandchildren. He was founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism, and Church Growth at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. His many books include Surprising Insights from the Unchurched, The Unexpected Journey, and Breakout Churches.

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