The Visitation

A few weeks ago, I was at a seminar about churches, leadership, and pastors. During the presentation, the leader said, “Newcomers to churches know how much better it is to get an email from a pastor than a visit from him.”

The line got a good laugh.

But it got me wondering: Is the generational shift that dramatic? Has the paradigm changed that much?

My first District Superintendent (way back in 1990) gave me a three point message the day he met me: Visit your people. Visit your people. Visit your people.

So I did. I didn’t know any better. I believe it helped change a tiny little church in Monroe, North Carolina into a nice-sized one in nine years. (By the way, that “three point message” was the extent of the DS training I got as a new pastor, but that’s another post for another time.)

But now, in a different century and a different setting, would people really rather receive an email than a personal visit from me or from other pastors?

I don’t know. All I know is that on those occasions when I do make an old-fashioned, in-home visit with a family — like this week when I dropped by to speak with a couple about a dedication service for their baby — that’s when I feel most alive, most like a bona fide pastor of a church and proclaimer of the gospel. I also have a sneaking suspicion that people are grateful for pastoral interest, regardless of what generation they come from.

Maybe I’m just old-fashioned.

But maybe not.