When to Call the Pastor

by jpserrano on September 5, 2013 · 5 comments

When to Call the Pastor

In our fast moving society, pastors must depend on individuals and families to communicate their need of pastoral care. You not only have a right to the ministry and sacraments of the church, but also an obligation to nourish your spiritual health at certain times of crisis or stress in your life. The intercessions of the Body of Christ are for all of us. Take advantage of them – call the parish clergy at any of the following times:

1. BEFORE GOING TO THE HOSPITAL:It makes no difference whether you are going to the hospital for major surgery or for a routine checkup — call before you go. One of the major duties of your pastor is to make regular calls to offer prayers for the sick and to bring them the Sacrament of Holy Communion). The laying on of hands and anointing is also appropriate before surgery. Take advantage of the Church’s resources of sacraments and prayers. Going even further the rule of thumb that you call the church about an illness if you call your doctor about it is not without merit.

2. BEFORE YOU ENGAGE A LAWYER: This does not mean before you get an attorney for any purpose, but when you are considering separation. If you take the Christian view of marriage seriously, you will wish to talk through your situation with your pastor long before matters proceed to the point of seeking legal counsel. You once asked God to bless your marriage. Seek God’s help when those blessings are difficult to find.

3. WHEN A BABY IS BORN OR ADOPTED: This is a good opportunity not only to rejoice and give thanks as you ask God’s blessing upon the child, but also to make preliminary arrangements for the child’s Baptism. Let your clergy share the joys and anxieties of the miracle of childbirth with you in this most spiritual event.

4. WHEN YOU WOULD LIKE TO TALK OR PRAY ABOUT A DIFFICULT DECISION: The big decisions in life are so important that they should be “talked out and prayed through.” Your work, perhaps getting married, a change of jobs, are all included. God never intended us to make these decisions alone, and often clergy can bring new insights and resources to the problem. They stand ready to discuss the matter with you in confidence, friendship, and prayer.

5. WHEN YOU KNOW SOMEONE IN NEED OF SPIRITUAL HELP: It is part of our Christian responsibility to be alert to the needs of others. If you know of someone who needs help, do not hesitate to call. Describe the situation but do not reveal names without permission. No one likes to be intruded upon. Together we may be able to find a way to minister to those in need and lighten their burden.

6. AT THE TIME OF DEATH IN YOUR FAMILY:No matter what the hour of the day or night, your pastor should be called at once. When a person is near death, the pastor of the congregation should be notified, in order that the ministrations of the Church may be provided. The funeral services should be held in the Church and the pastor will be helpful in times of extreme stress. Call before you make arrangements for services with a funeral home when death has occurred. Baptized Christians are properly buried from the church. The service should be held at a time when the congregation has opportunity to be present.

7. BEFORE ANYONE ENTERS THE ARMED FORCES OR LEAVES FOR COLLEGE OR A JOB AWAY FROM HOME:Not only will the clergy want to know their address away from home, but would also like to offer prayers of support for changes in people’s lives.

8. WHEN THERE IS A MARRIAGE TO BE PLANNED:As soon as an engagement is seriously considered and before it is announced publicly! Weddings are generally not celebrated in Advent and Lent.

9. WHEN YOU ARE UPSET ABOUT SOMETHING THAT HAPPENED IN CHURCH OR IN THE CONGREGATION: Your concerns should be expressed to the pastor before other members. The clergy can help you gain perspective on the problem and its pastoral implications for the whole congregation.

10. WHEN YOU FEEL DEEPLY BURDENED WITH GUILT OR YOUR FAITH IN GOD BEGINS TO WAVER, OR LIFE IN THE CHURCH SEEMS TO HAVE LOST ITS MEANING FOR YOU: We all go through dry periods or “the dark night of the soul” in our pilgrimage in faith. Your pastors are here to help you find forgiveness and depth in faith, not to cast stones or to condemn.

11. WHEN THERE ARE FAMILY DIFFICULTIES: These can be the most difficult matters to talk about with someone. Your confidence will be treated with utmost respect. You may find that resource or insight that can help in the stress of family living.

12. BEFORE YOU CHANGE ADDRESSES – EITHER IN TOWN OR ANOTHER TOWN: People often quit attending church for no other reason than they simply moved to a new address and their church life never picked up again. Let your clergy know when you expect to move so your church can stay in touch. A directory of churches throughout the USA and the rest of the world can help you make the connection with churches in your new location.

13. WHEN YOU ARE THANKFUL AND WANT TO SHARE YOUR JOY!Your private thanksgivings can be offered in the prayers of the people or in the silent prayers of the clergy. Sharing thanksgivings and joys increases not only your pleasure but also of the one who rejoices with you. All of us like to know when another senses that God is in heaven and all is right with the world, for our faith is affirmed also! 

(Used with permission, Steve Sabin)

Are there any other times you can think of?


{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Pr. Manda September 5, 2013 at 12:31 pm

Wow, I’m surprised even at myself about how conflicted I am with this list. While I don’t disagree with these I’m also acutely aware that they exist primarily in a hierarchical understanding of church. How can we write this advice in a way that lifts up the gifts of the whole priesthood and decentralizes the knowledge (and thus, power) from the clergy head? Hmmm.. lemme think about it.


jpserrano September 5, 2013 at 1:20 pm

That is not at all how I read this list.


Brenda Bos September 5, 2013 at 12:34 pm

You know, most of these are to remind people that God and the church are part of rituals, which are so critical to a satisfying life. Your list is excellent at reminding us that in all moments of our life, painful and joyful, let’s remember God’s presence. I especially appreciated the reminder to call before calling a lawyer. We forget those need to be sacred, prayer-drenched times.


jpserrano September 5, 2013 at 1:21 pm

These were written by Steve Sabin.

I agree with your assessment of God’s presence in all we do.


The Stream Nerd September 15, 2013 at 11:45 am

Another good time is when you’re married to the pastor and s/he is late for dinner 🙂



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