On Conversing With Your Pastor

I tweeted something on conversing with your pastor. That led to more tweets, which led to a random thread of assorted thoughts on conversing with your pastor that was inspired by nothing really. I thought I’d collect them and publish them…
 

Most pastors would love to have a conversation with you about the Bible and spiritual things.
 
Be aware that church events often aren’t the best time for them to answer on-the-spot questions.
 
Ask for a convenient time, let them know the topic or passage, allow time for dialogue.
 
Be willing to answer questions, as well as ask them.
 
Don’t expect to get the answer you want; be content if you don’t.
 
Be discreet. Your pastor doesn’t expect your conversation to be broadcast.
 
Understand that his beliefs aren’t necessarily those of the church or denomination.

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Feel free to ask your pastor to be discreet as well.
 
Your inquiry, thoughts, doubts, and wrestling should be respected as private if you wish it to be (excepting biblically warranted reasons for sharing).
 
If you don’t want it to be shared with other leaders (or spouses), say so.
 
When dealing with potentially confidential issues, you have a right to know up-front who your pastor will share it with.
He has no right to assume that you know he’ll tell his wife. He should ask your permission first or make it clear beforehand that he may share this.
 
Understand that your pastor may need to limit the discussion of particular topics or texts, or to cut off the conversation at some point.
 
While they love you and the Bible, they have to make decisions about where to invest energy and time.
 
Be willing to talk with another pastor or elder.
 
Don’t monopolize the “lead/teaching pastor,” thinking that only one particular pastor is suited to address your unique needs.
 
Above all, don’t complain that your pastor isn’t available for conversation if you haven’t asked.
 
If you have a complaint about not getting access, make it directly.
 
Don’t be passive-aggressive.
 
Don’t hint at it in other conversation, emails, and social media posts.
 
Don’t expect your pastor to read something that you’re not willing to discuss.
 
Don’t expect your pastor to read something if you’re not willing to read a counter-view suggested by him.
 
When passing along suggested reading, clarify intent:
 
– Is this for reading “whenever?”
– Do you expect him to read it soon? Why? By when?
– Is this to correct something he recently said or did?
– Do you expect him to follow-up with you?
– Are you willing to discuss it with him?
 
I generally ask those questions. If follow-up is wanted, then I ask the person to schedule a meeting with me to discuss it, clarifying that I will not read it until that meeting is scheduled. (And I don’t read it until near the date and after confirmation.)
 
Don’t assume that everything (or anything!) he says in the next sermon or his social media posts is related to your conversation.
I could go on. But that’s all I got for now. Hope it’s helpful or thought-provoking. I’d love to chat about it.