Tuesday, April 25, 2006


I know what I say, but what you heard is not what I said. This statement becomes all to common in an after-pastor church. Miscommunication is a typical symptom that something is wrong in the dynamics of the church.

I once mentioned to someone that going into the hospital where I had Cardiac by-pass surgery to visit another cardiac patient was a strange experience. In my mind I was thinking about the difference between walking the halls and being wheeled into the surgical suite. It is a unique perspective. What was heard was that I refused to visit a parishioner in the Cardiac unit because it “freaked me out.” Did I say that? The truth of the matter was that I did not know he was there until he was home. No one thought to mention his hospitalization to me. That hospital was 60 miles away so I did not just “drop in” unless I knew someone was there. What was most infuriating was the “rumor” stuck, no matter how many times I tried to explain or correct the perception.

When there has been a violation of trust in the Pastoral Office, why would anyone believe the pastor when a rumor makes more sense? Besides the rumor comes from another person who is trusted. After-pastors face situations like this frequently. The violation of trust colors the position, and stains the one holding that title, regardless of how trustworthy that person may or may not be.

Perhaps this is the most difficult aspect of after-pastor ministry. Authentic communication is essential to lead a congregation toward healing; miscommunication is counter-productive to that end. Clear and consistent messages must be stated and heard correctly.

We live in the information era, but how well do we listen?

For more information about after-pastor ministry, check out my web site at:
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