cold calls aren’t just for telemarketers

I had a good talk the other day with my CS (Conference Superintendent) about my hesitations around visiting. He was very surprised that I find it to be such a scary task because I appear to be so outgoing and extroverted. As he put it, he was morbidly curious to find out what was so difficult. My answer: showing up on the doorstep.

I think it’s the feeling that I’m intruding on someone’s life. What right do I have to barge into their home? Of course, that’s not what really happens, and I DO have the right as their pastor. It’s a double-sided coin maybe… I don’t feel like I know some people well enough to show up and visit, and yet I probably won’t get to know them well enough unless I do. Others I see regularly in the church – which I know isn’t a substitute for going to see them personally.

What I love is when I recieve an invitation to go and visit someone. When I know that there is a reason they might want me to show up. If someone isn’t well, if they are in the hospital, or if they let me know that they would like me to come over – all of that hesitation is gone.

That’s what happened yesterday. A complete stranger, someone new in town, called and really needed to talk with a pastor. I told her I would be over that afternoon. And I spent two and half hours getting to know this woman, hearing her life story, and wrestling with some difficult questions with her. I left absolutely exhausted – but for such a good reason. I was emotionally drained because I got to be the presence of God for her. And because I walked along her journey with her – if only for a little bit.

Now, it’s kind of selfish to wish this – but I really do wish that more people would invite me into their homes and their lives – even if just for five minutes. Or I wish I was at a place with my husband where I felt more comfortable inviting people over to our home for a cup of coffee. Or that we had a more comfortable sit-down coffee shop in town for the same reason. I think that it would make that huge list of members feel a bit more manageable.

3 Comments

  • B Smith

    September 24, 2009 at 2:05 pm Reply

    Katie, You express exactly what I feel when I make "cold calls" to people, especially people who are not members of one of my churches. I feel a tension of awkwardness between the two of us. They don't feel right in telling a pastor that they don't want a visit. There's the uncomfortable silences and the awkwardness when it is time to leave. I know personally that I would not like someone, anyone, showing up at my door without some kind of notice. I try to ask some folks after services on Sunday about coming during the week for a visit. I usually can gauge from their reaction whether or not they want one. I am thankful to know that I am not alone in my apprehension.

  • Matt Kelley

    September 25, 2009 at 11:30 am Reply

    I feel the same way. I don't show up randomly on people's doorsteps, but I feel weird inviting myself over to people's houses. That's the introvert in me.

  • Katie Z. Dawson

    October 10, 2009 at 3:01 pm Reply

    I think this is something that so many of us as pastors face. You know, as I thought about it – I realized we never had preparation in seminary for how to do these visits – we just kind of stumble through and try them on our own. CPE was helpful for me, but even with that, I think I crave some kind of apprenticeship into this strange field of pastoral visitation

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