Communication (Or: Please Talk to Your Pastor)

TalkToMe-01Years ago as a parish pastor, I left a congregational meeting so that the congregation could talk freely about my compensation.  Some pastors do this and some don’t.

I went down the hall to my study and waited for someone to come tell me that it was time to return to the meeting.  I waited . . . and I waited . . . and I waited . . . until finally I opened the door to listen for what was going on in that interminable church meeting.  When I couldn’t hear anything, I tiptoed down the hall to check out what was happening.

They had left.  Everybody was gone.

Apparently, they had talked, voted, and departed.  It hadn’t occurred to anyone to retrieve me or to inform me what had happened at the meeting.  But this is what I wondered:

  • Did someone have a heart attack and so they waited for the ambulance to arrive?
  • Did they need more copies of the agenda and so they spent an extra 15 minutes making copies?
  • Was there a lengthy discussion about How Awesome The Pastor Is?
  • Was there a lengthy discussion about How Lame The Pastor Is?

This happens all the time to my colleagues.  Conversations happen About Us.  We leave meetings for Awkward Discussions About Our Salary & Benefits.  And when we return to the meeting (if we return) people look at their shoes.  It doesn’t occur to anyone – it seems – that the pastor who stepped out has no idea what just happened.

Here’s a little secret I’ll share about me and my clergy colleagues:  it doesn’t take much to crush us.  Our egos are often fragile.  And yet, it’s better to share Difficult Conversations with us honestly and lovingly (remembering that a healthy church makes decisions that result in What’s Best For the Community) than it is to withhold constructive criticism.  It’s much better to share honestly what’s going on.

Just a helpful reminder to church leaders who want their congregations to thrive. Thank you.

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2 responses to “Communication (Or: Please Talk to Your Pastor)

  1. Yep… Happened to me… That and the anonymous letter with tips on how to improve my preaching… One person being a butt…

  2. Pingback: This Week’s Links « Timothy Siburg

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