Connecting With Your Congregation

A pastor I once knew had a hard time with visitation. What do I talk about? What’s important? Good questions

In my book, he most important part of pastoral relationship is connection. How do I connect with members I don’t know, especially older members? You start by listening. You listen to what they talk about, the way they talk. Are they happy?stressed? Then you ask questions. What is going on with you? Find out about family and interests. If you’re in their home, that’s easy:look around. Everything in a persons life surrounds them. Everything in their house whispers or shouts who they are. Are there books, collections, antiques, instruments? Souvenirs? Art? Is it well organized? What are the colors? Is the house formal or informal? Ask. Compliment.

The same thing is true of the person. Are the clothes they wear neat, clean, color coordinated? (but always remember the state they are in is not necessarily the state that they’re always in). How is their body language. Is it relaxed? tense? Do they talk with their hands. Is their tone of voice flat or melodical? Do they talk about ideas or things? Feelings? Their health? Their spiritual and prayer life? Ask a congregant how they’re doing and most people will tell you almost more than you need to know. Close with a prayer that incorporates the discussion in some way: thanks for gifts and abilities, relevant areas to pray for. prayer for their family by name etc.

If you can do even some of that you’ll have a great visit and more importantly you’ll build connection: between you and them, them and God and even YOU and God.