“How Much Visitation Will You Do?”

I was “trying out.” I had preached and was answering questions after services.

A kind, gracious, dignified, older lady asked, “If you come here to be our preacher, how much visiting will you do?”

It was a conflicted congregation. An unintentional interim had left a few months before. He followed a loved preacher who had stayed a long time and was a master at ministering to people. The theme of the questioning was, “If you come here, which side will you be on — mine or the other.”

My Reply to the Visitation Question

The elders and I have discussed this. We’ve been talking four months.

There is no visitation in my contract. As the preacher of this church, I won’t do any visitation.

Gail and I have discussed placing membership if we come here. We’ve talked with the elders about that.

After we place membership, as members of this church, Gail and I will visit. That’s what Christians do. We may go out to eat on Friday night and visit people in the Nashville hospitals. We’ll visit individually and as a family often.

Since my schedule is flexible, I may be able to visit more than some of you.

My answer, “I will visit about as much as you and other members of this church.”

The plan of Jesus for leaders in His church is not to do all the work but to train and prepare Christians to do the work of ministry.

And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11, 12).

It isn’t healthy when the preacher is expected to do most of the visiting.

When I worked with that congregation, I visited. I taught about serving others. I led classes and workshops to train Christians to be better listeners and helpers. Leaders don’t do all the work. They train others for the work of ministry.

We’ve been careful not to call our preachers, Pastor. It’s also important not to make the preacher THE Pastor and then wonder why the church follows the preacher more than the elders.

Read more about this: When Your Preacher Becomes THE Pastor.

(Visited 594 times, 72 visits today)
Jerrie Barber
Servant of Jesus, husband to Gail, father to Jerrie Wayne Barber, II and Christi Parsons, grandfather, great-grandfather, Interim Preacher, Shepherd coach, Ventriloquist, barefoot runner, ride a cruiser bicycle

5 Responses to ““How Much Visitation Will You Do?”

  • EDGAR C. BEARD
    4 months ago

    I DO NOT REMEMBER EVER BEING ASKED THAT QUESTION…BUT…I SURE DID A LOT OF VISITING AND HOME BIBLE STUDIES…
    I TRIED TO BE IN EVERY HOME EVERY YEAR AT LEAST ONCE AND TWICE IF POSSIBLE…WE ALWAYS GREW AND MOST DOUBLED +
    W AND ONE JUST A FEW FOLKS SHORT OF BEING 5 TIMES LARGER WHEN THE ELDERS DECIDE THE CHURCH COULD NOT GROW
    W/ME AS THE PREACHER…SMILING…SADLY…THEY ARE NOW FAR LESS THAN HALF WHAT WE WERE WHEN I LEFT…THAT SURE DO
    “””NOT””” BRING ME ANY JOY !!!!! SURE DO LOVE AND APPRECIATE YOU !!!!

  • J. Larry Graham
    4 months ago

    As a former elder I thought Jerri’s answer was “right on” as his statement was certainly Biblical in my opinion as it reflected Eph. 4:11-12 and after all, elders as shepherds of the flock should feel keenly aware that they should tend to the flock when they are not only sick physically & spiritually but when in good health so as to maintain that necessary close relationship of knowing the sheep(members) and caring for them. The elder’s counterpart in the OT is called a watchman that has a duty (Ezekiel 3:17-21) and after all elders are to watch out for the souls of men and will give account accordingly (Hebrews 13:17). My experience has been when elders as well as members expect the preacher to do the bulk of the visiting then his main calling to preach the Word can often be greatly diminished. Yes it is wonderful when the preacher can visit the members as he has time.

    J. Larry Graham

  • Jeff Smith
    4 months ago

    Brother Jerry, I am reminded that Jesus often answered a question with a question. It may have been an appropriate time to do just that. I love to “visit”, but realize I used to visit too much in yesteryear. I was everywhere, all the time, when I should have been preparing better, more effective lessons. I fear there was a time in my preaching when much visiting covered for my poor preaching. I like to think I have adjusted to better preaching and smarter visiting in my last few years.

    As a more seasoned preacher my visiting these days is more strategic. I am more apt to quickly visit a non member than a member. My church family has caught on to this. Extended family, friends, and “loved ones” who are un-churched or not members are often mentioned to me as “needing” a visit from me. I welcome that. Part of this Covid-19 pandemic that frustrates me is that I cannot do that now. I can call. I can pen a note. But visiting for all practical purposes has been shut down along with other things I typically do in ministry.

    I must also confess, there are periods in ministry where I have stayed in constant dilemma. When out visiting I feel the need to be studying. When studying I feel the need to be visiting. I fear that when this pandemic is over the frenzy to catch up on visiting will detract from other duties. I have learned the value of taking others with me, especially another Elder.

    You didn’t mean to, but this topic is one I have wrestled with all my preaching life. Still not sure I have it exactly right, but I do have balance and I do plan to make further adjustments in my visiting as time goes on. I do not remember in “preaching school” being taught the proper procedures for visiting, how much?, when?, how often?, and who? I do know this, as a preacher, I have spent more time thinking about visiting than I ever thought I would. I also wonder, do our members realize that many preachers wrestle with visiting? You may have accidentally added yet another chapter to my book. I may mention you in that chapter.

    • Jeff,

      Thank you for detailing many of my struggles through the years.

      I made a habit of “over visiting” early in my ministry. The church where I was working grew from 200 to 300. My visiting rules crushed my schedule and I didn’t know how to change the rules. It negatively affected my study, family time, and rest. It didn’t always help the people I was visiting. I later learned some people didn’t want me to be there before the surgery, sit with the family during the surgery, and pray when they reached the recovery room. They wanted me absent the whole day. I wasn’t helping them. I was just following my rules. I wanted to treat everyone the same.

      This ignorance contributed to my stress.

      There is a better way. Have an agreement that people will tell you what they want and need.

      The problem was strictly my own making. There were no visitation requirements in my agreement. My agreement wasn’t written. I did it to myself and I didn’t know how to undo it.

      That’s the reason I now discuss it and get room to adjust.

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