What We’ve Missed Most During Covid: Meeting with the Pastor

One of the things people miss the most about not gathering in person for church on Sunday has been a chance to meet personally with their pastors. 

According to recent Barna research, “connecting with my church leaders” is among the top deficiencies we've all been feeling. 

Oh, sure, there are still ways to meet.  

The phone is still there, but most people don’t feel like they have permission to initiate a phone conversation. The pastors are busy, and so many other people must need their time. 

And there’s Zoom. So many churches have “let’s meet in Zoom after the livestream!” opportunities. But, that’s a room full of other people all saying hello and catching up, not the place for a one-on-one meeting with the pastor. In that setting, the best hope is to catch the pastor at the end after everyone else has left the meeting. 

Most of us really just want that 30 seconds of time before or after the service to make eye contact, shake hands, and express something meaningful -- about the sermon, the worship, how things are going during Covid, at work, with the kids. Such brief encounters help maintain grounding, balance and a sense of belonging. 

And, if there is something else deeper in the background, the casual greeting at church provides the opportunity for the discerning pastor to take a moment and ask if perhaps it is time to set up a time for a longer conversation during the week. 

There’s just not a lot of casual, walk-by, opportunistic moments online.  

This is one of the things we hear most from pastors about what they are appreciating about Altar Live. After service, everyone moves to the Lobby and finds a table with a friend or some acquaintances -- and meet face-to-face.  Sure, there are other people around, but it’s not a big all-in-one videoconference. The encounters are intimate, close, and casual. 

Pastors in particular like this format, as it allows them to see who is gathered in groups of two’s and three’s, and drop in to say a brief hello and catch up. Everyone is pleased for the drop-in, and it is just as easy for the pastor to make a graceful exit. 

Many pastors also set up a table in the Altar Live lobby and name it Meet the Pastor (or perhaps something less formal, like, Coffee with Pastor Dave). This allows for something not altogether unlike standing at the front of the church after service to field questions -- about the sermon, or about life. 

Finding that ideal in-between time online -- not in a livestream, not in a text-only chat with emojis, and not in a full-blown large group videoconference or formal meeting -- has been an unanswered challenge for most pastors during Covid.  Yet, that is precisely where important connections get made and important (and even not so important) conversations naturally flow. 

How has your church been creating space for pastors/leadership to meet casually online with members of your church?