Sometimes people wonder when they should call or contact their pastor. Here are some suggestions developed by a retired pastor.
Call your pastor when . . . .
You're going into the hospital. Please tell your pastor when you going into the hospital, or if a family member is. Your pastor likes to visit people who are in the hospital for a few days or more. He'll bring you or your family member God's words of comfort.
You would like a prayer said for you. Your pastor is always happy to do this. (Please note: If you would like yourself or a loved one to be included by name in our prayers during a Sunday morning service, tell pastor that specifically. Sometimes people want things kept confidential, so pastor typically will not mention anyone by name in church unless he is asked or given the okay to do so.) Our powerful and loving God answers prayer!
You are not able to come to church for more than a month. If you are sick for a prolonged period of time or recovering from illness or surgery and can't get to church, your pastor will come to you. He will see how you are doing, pray with you, have a short devotion, and bring you the Lord's Supper. (Speaking of missing church, I encourage you to call or email your pastor if you will miss even one Sunday! Let him know you will be gone and he can send you a copy of the worship folder and sermon for that Sunday.) Your pastor simply wants you to stay connected to God's Word and his Sacrament. We all constantly need what God gives us when we gather in his house.
You have a question or concern about something at church. Many church-related questions that people have can be cleared up easily. Likewise, if you have a concern about something at church, let your pastor know and he'll see what he can do to resolve it. Or if you have a suggestion for something that can be done that is new or different, tell your pastor. Your pastor will not be able to implement every suggestion, but your input does matter!
You have an issue in your marriage that is unresolved after one month. If an issue in your marriage does not go away after one month, then it is probably not going to go away without some help. Don't wait to seek help until your marriage deteriorates. A Christian marriage needs to be rooted in God's Word and built on God's love. Therefore, pastoral counseling will focus on spiritual issues. Your pastor is not a professional marriage counselor. But he is able to apply God's powerful Word to your relationship!
Your conscience is troubling you and you want assurance of God's grace. God does not leave us alone to struggle with temptation and guilt. He invites us to confess our sin and receive his forgiveness. In strict confidence you can confess your sin to your pastor and receive assurance of God's forgiveness and absolution delivered personally to you. You are welcome to come even if no particular sin is troubling you. It's faith-building to receive God's forgiveness at any time.
You're wrestling with a spiritual issue or have a question about something the Bible says. Questions often come up when you're talking religion with coworkers and friends. Call your pastor if you have a question about a Bible teaching. Talk with him about it. If you encounter something in a sermon, Bible study, or in your own personal Bible reading that makes you scratch your head, let your pastor know. Your pastor loves to discuss God's Word and to see people grow in their understanding of it.
You have a friend or relative who wants to know more about Jesus. Please pass their names on to your pastor. He would love to invite them to his Bible class and meet with them to share the hope that we have in Christ. Granted, meeting with a pastor can be intimidating for some people. So assure your friend or relative that your pastor is not near as scary as he looks and offer to come along with them to meet him. Assure them that your pastor's goal is not to brainwash them, but simply to listen to them and to share with them the truth and beauty of God's Word.
Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list. You can certainly call your pastor at other times too. You can view this list as 'this is when my pastor wants me to call him.'