Tuesday, October 13, 2009

"Just Say It" Series: Before and after church bombardment

As I said in a previous post, some ignorant people think that pastors work one day a week.  Actually we are on call 24/7 and our work week is generally six days a week.  There are times I go to the office on Saturday to work, but more often than not I am working from home on that day.  Other misinformed individuals think that because we are working from home it is a day off, but far from it.   It doesn't matter how hard you work Monday-Friday, there is always more to do to wrap things up for Sunday.  But that's not the topic of this post.

Today I'm going to address the fact that while your pastor works many hours a week (your average pastor works about 60 hours a week) the majority of people will bombard the pastor right before or after a service with whatever they need.  You cannot even imagine how frustrating this is.  I've tried all kinds of things to avoid this, but nothing has worked 100% although it has improved.  What has made this better in my case is my assistant Cathy, her husband who is also head usher (Tom) and also a few other friends, Candy and Lisa among them.  These folks watch out for me but still there are times they can't be with me 24/7.   

One of the most sensitive times if not THE most sensitive times for your pastor is the period of time right before and right after a service.  Beforehand they are gearing up for service and putting their mind in gear and it's so easy to get it off focus.   It is implausible the things people will come and tell you right as service is going to start.  I've had people pull me aside and say, "hey, I know you're busy getting ready for service but I just wanted to let you know that Ralph and I are getting a divorce."  (What I'm supposed to do about it five minutes before service, I don't know.  That is not enough time to properly console nor counsel anyone.)  People pull you aside to tell you they are upset with someone in the church, or so and so forgot to bring the muffins for the visitor/hospitality room, or the toilet is backed up in the ladies room.  (Again, what is the PASTOR going to do about this five minutes before service?  Nothing.  They are just going to have it on their mind while they try to preach. )  Imagine if you had to get up and deliver a powerful message after somebody just dropped a bomb on you like that!   
 
Others don't drop negative reports on the pastor, just distractions that could  and should wait until office hours. "Hey Pastor, has that curriculum come in that I was looking for, for my class?" or "My daughter is getting married in April.  What do we have to do to have it here at the church?  When could you start her pre-marital counseling?"  These are all things that could be deferred until Monday.  Quite frankly, anything except for a 9-1-1 emergency can wait right if it's right before service. 

After service is another sensitive time.  You can't even fathom how wiped out your pastor is.  If you want to get a glimpse, read this blog post -- it will blow your mind.  Whether a service went awesome or poorly,  your pastor is absolutely spent.  Typically we give of ourselves not only in preaching but ministering at the altar or greeting guests.  The last thing a pastor wants to do is face other issues on a Sunday or Wednesday night.   

 I know exactly what's going to happen after we have an amazing service and a bunch of people come to Jesus, or get healed, or have something equally amazing happen.  Somebody is going to come up to me or my husband before our foot even hits the bottom stair on the platform, and say something stupid that's just going to take the wind out of our sails.  

One Sunday a few years ago, we had twelve people come to faith in Jesus in one service alone.  Others were healed or changed in some significant way.  It was an amazing day  of God's presence and power being loosed in the place, and as I was coming off the platform totally stoked about what God just did, a lady walked up, passed me a note and said, "I  need you to do something about this," and walked away in a huff.  I stood there on the steps and opened it and the note said, "The girl who sang on the platform this morning had a skirt that was way too short.  It really ruined the service."  Oh really?  I don't think Jesus was up there going, "Wow, what a bummer day at Northside.  Forget about all these people whose lives were changed.  The service was ruined!  Shaniqua had a skirt that was too short."  No, no, no, I KNOW my Jesus wasn't saying that.  The Bible doesn't say that He thinks up stuff like that after a service, but it DOES say in Luke 15:7 that ALL OF HEAVEN REJOICES WHEN JUST ONE SINNER COMES TO CHRIST!  Since Jesus runs the place (heaven) I think this is what he cares about.  If we're going to touch heaven and change earth we've got to care about things Jesus cares about.  I hate to break it to you Pharisees out there, but Jesus could really CARE LESS about Shaniqua's skirt or the fact that the sound system was a little too loud for your tastes in comparison to somebody's life being changed.   All Jesus gives a rat's behind about after a church service is WHO'S LIFE WAS CHANGED?  ARE YOU CLOSER TO HIM THAN YOU WERE BEFORE YOU WENT IN? 

 All I can say if you are doing this kind of pathetic thing to your pastor such as  bringing up stuff like this after a service, please STOP IT.  Put your big girl or big boy panties on and grow up.  (And yes, I tell our church people to do that.  Seriously.  Somebody needs to.   And I'm not waiting once a year for an evangelist to do it.  I'm way too impatient for that and time's too short.  Jesus is coming back if you forgot, folks.  So let's get on to the main thing which is souls.)

As far as real issues besides Shaniqua's skirt that people need to talk to me about, I tell them that I am in the office all week long with the exception of one day where I work from home.  Even then, I'm still working, and I invite our people to call me at home.  With all this availability it just puzzles me why they bombard on Sunday, but many still do.  Ask anyone in our church and they'd tell you that after every single service, there's a "line" of people waiting to talk to me, and some of them will wait, and wait and wait.   You would think Brad Pitt or Julia Roberts were in the place, but alas it's just little 'ol me, Deanna Shrodes.  As an example, our Wednesday night service gets out at 8:30.  There are times I've still been in the sanctuary with people at 11:00 pm who have stayed to talk to me about something for whatever reason.  I really want to help people, so I stay as long as needed.  But it sure would be nice if they'd just call me Monday and we could set up a time to meet their needs in a much better fashion.  It's for them as much as it is me, believe me.

So here's the conclusion I've come to and it might not sound like a real solution but for now,  it's what I've been doing.  When people get me before or after service, they aren't getting the best they could be getting from me.  They are getting an off-focus, exhausted, distracted, not-at-the-top-of-her-game leader.  If that is what they want to settle for by talking to me at that time, I've decided to let them.  If it is their choice to receive a substandard version of me, and get counsel on something while a dozen kids have come into the sanctuary and are hopping up and down around us, waving their balloons from kids church while screaming, let them.  If they want to talk while my feet are throbbing and I'm so tired I can't really concentrate, let them.  It's a less than stellar atmosphere for discussing anything serious, but it's one they have chosen instead of calling me the other 55-60+  hours a week that I'm working.   I know that might sound really uncaring, but truthfully I've come to realize that bombarding your pastor before or after service also shows no caring.  

Every pastor handles this issue in different ways, but I'm telling you, 100% of them have to grapple with it.   I don't know any pastor on the planet who wants to be bombarded before or after church.  A friend of mine who is not a pastor tells me the reason church people do that is because it's convenient  for them to talk to the pastor at that time,  versus having to pick up their phone or write an email.  Perhaps.  But my point is -- if you do that, and your pastor responds by giving you that time right before or after service, you are definitely not receiving the quality time that you would receive had you not chosen to do it during an extremely inopportune time of the week.  Also of note is - when you do if after church is just  hurts you as you don't get your pastor's best that they have to offer you.  But, when you do it before church though, it affects the entire congregation and possibly someone's eternal destiny because you have thrown the pastor's complete focus off before they have to get up and preach.  You might want to think about that before you run up to them before the next service and complain to them that you were upset because the youth pastor didn't send the forms out for youth camp soon enough to suit you, or ask them to give advice about the big fight you just had with your spouse.   

*Tomorrow:  You've heard the problem!  Now be a part of the solution!  I'm going to tell you how YOU can help your pastor in practical ways when they are bombarded before and after services.

6 comments:

Ruth, PA said...

(I do not know how else to say this but...)I believe many people who bombard our pastor Sun. am only attend that service. They are too lazy to set up an appointment throughout the week and want to "hit two birds w/ one stone." It is selfish and uncaring. I've experienced the same situation after teaching Kidz Church for 2 hrs, but on a much lesser degree!

We are guilty of a bit too much fellowship on Wed. night. :) All the board members, department heads and staff all have keys. Anyone one of them (who are also enjoying the fellowship lol) sticks around or we move it to someones home or a local eatery. We are a church that truely love being around each other. I don't know if that is good or bad! :) I look forward to tomorrow's post.

Leanne said...

...and the children's pastor says, AMEN!!!

I will add one more thing to this: You can greatly help your children's pastor on Sunday mornings by [if you are scheduled in the preschool class that day] SHOWING UP!!!! On time. And contacting someone else on the schedule to switch if you can't make it.

I try very hard to honor any requests that are given to me ahead of time, but I do not read minds. If you do not contact me with the information that you will be gone on a given Sunday, I do not know your family's vacation schedule...

Nor is it an apppropriate use of my time [or my husband's, since he refuses to let me be the one to do this!] to be running all over the church looking for someone to help us out instead of preparing for service and interacting with kids.

This is how I am usually "bombarded" before a service, and yes, it did happen to me this past Sunday!

Leanne said...

...and the children's pastor says, AMEN!!!

I will add one more thing to this: You can greatly help your children's pastor on Sunday mornings by [if you are scheduled in the preschool class that day] SHOWING UP!!!! On time. And contacting someone else on the schedule to switch if you can't make it.

I try very hard to honor any requests that are given to me ahead of time, but I do not read minds. If you do not contact me with the information that you will be gone on a given Sunday, I do not know your family's vacation schedule...

Nor is it an apppropriate use of my time [or my husband's, since he refuses to let me be the one to do this!] to be running all over the church looking for someone to help us out instead of preparing for service and interacting with kids.

This is how I am usually "bombarded" before a service, and yes, it did happen to me this past Sunday!

Anonymous said...

Wow....you said a mouthful!!! I don't need to add another thing...26 years a pastor's wife.

Anonymous said...

Amazing. Thank you.

LaDonna said...

WOW! You preach it sister! Love the big girls and big boy panties!