The Changing Face of Pastoral Visitations

Six years ago a friend and I wrote a document titled “The Changing Context in Ministry” for mutual ministry seminars we were facilitating. One of the changes we noted was the way the world communicates. I grew up with a corded phone that was placed on a stationary table in a central room. When you talked your movement was restricted as you were literally tied to the phone by the cord.

When I was a teenager my parents assigned evening talking times to my two sisters and me so we could talk with our friends after dinner. We each got a half hour. By the time I had teenage daughters, the phone seldom rang for them and they rarely used it for making calls. They communicated by email and rapidly graduated to text messages (one of them would average 2,000 per month), Facebook and Skype which they do on their smartphones they carry in their pockets. Their communications devices moved with them.

Thanks to the changes in the way the world communicates pastoral visitations have transformed, too.  They still happen face-to-face but also though email, Skype, Facebook, and text messages. The channels pastors have to manage have greatly multiplied, which is both a curse and a blessing. The curse is the multitude of channels through which a pastor can be reached and now need to be tended. The blessing is the ability to connect with people who might have been previously disconnected until the pastor could physically go visit.

One pastor I know had a parishioner who reached the point where he couldn’t talk. But he and the pastor were in regular contact via text messages. Concerns and prayers were shared in ways not possible even twenty years ago. That’s a blessing to be sure.

Times have changed and ministry leaders seek to adapt. What changes have you seen? How have you adapted?