I have heard of pastor’s who have the attitude that they do not visit people because that is the deacon’s job. I have heard of pastor’s who get angry when someone tells them that they should visit someone. This, I believe, is a lack of having a pastor’s heart and perhaps even having a calling to be a pastor in the first place.
Pastoral visitation is a vital role in pastoral ministry. It is true that the primary job of the pastor is to preach and to lead. I firmly believe that. Congregations would do well by respecting a pastor’s time and giving him ample opportunity to study and prepare. It is also good for a church to provide opportunity for the pastor to continue his education by providing funds for further education and training. Such equipping of the pastor’s mind benefits not just the pastor, but the entire congregation. It is also true that a church should not have an unrealistic expectation for the pastor. I have been in some places where if the pastor was not there every time someone sneezed then he was not doing his job.
I am very thankful that at the church where I pastor, there is little to no expectation placed upon me to visit people all the time. I am blessed to serve in a church where people look out for each other and there are many who visit the sick and the hurting. It is a team effort, rather than just being placed on one man. If my church had to choose between me visiting or being in the study preparing for the preaching, they would tell me to be in the study. For that I am truly thankful. It certainly makes my job easier and less stressful.
However, even if a pastor is in a situation such as I am in, I still believe it is important for the pastor to visit. Visitation should never take the place of or hinder the study time. But, if a pastor keeps an organized schedule, he should find ample time to make important visits. Even in a large church, the pastor should still make time to visit. He may not be able to get around to everyone he’d like to, however, he can focus on those who really just need to see the pastor’s face and have their pastor pray with them. Every pastor has a different routine that works for them. For me, I have found that mornings are the best time for me to do my studies. Typically, I am in the office on weekdays by 8:00 a.m. The first two to three hours are spent in the Word and in prayer. After that, I may do other necessary office work and tasks that needs to be done. After lunch, I will then go a make a visit or two. This way, I do not get burned out with visiting. Seeing one or two people each day will cover a lot of ground. During my prayer time, I pray and ask God to guide my steps and show me who He would have me go and see that day. Most of those visits are with homebound people or those in the hospitals. In addition to this, we will occasionally have families over to our house for a cookout just to spend time with others and get to know people in the church.
The point being made is that there are many responsibilities that come with being a pastor. The most important responsibility is the preaching of the Word. Therefore, sermon prep is of great importance. However, as pastors, we must not neglect pastoral care. No matter what size your church is, the pastor should always work time into his schedule to make personal visits to those who need it the most.