10 Surprising Places to See a Pastor

Every once in a while, I’m in a conversation where a church member has expressed “surprise” to see his or her pastor in a given place. I thought you might enjoy hearing some of those conversations:

  1. “My pastor was the greeter in the parking lot this past Sunday.” He had challenged the church to enlist parking lot greeters, and he set the example by being the first one. Nobody expected to see the pastor waving at cars as they entered the lot.
  2.  “Our pastor showed up at the hospital anyway.” This church member attends a large church, and her family told the pastor he didn’t need to come to the hospital – and they meant it. He came anyway, though, and it greatly surprised and blessed the family.
  3. “He was in the sanctuary greeting people before the service!” I include this one not to imply that every pastor must take this step, but simply to show that this church member didn’t miss it when her pastor changed his routine. She was genuinely surprised to see him before he stepped to the pulpit.
  4. “Pastor _____ was in our small group today.” At this church, no pastor had ever simply attended a Sunday morning small group – but this new pastor made a commitment to model what he expected his members to do.
  5. “I didn’t expect my pastor to be serving the coffee at the fellowship café this morning.” This pastor wanted to be more connected with people he didn’t know well yet, and he learned that many people came there for coffee – so he met them from behind the counter.
  6. “Did you see the pastor in the choir today?” This church member had never seen a pastor who sang in the choir and preached. In fact (believe it or not), it never occurred to her that some preachers can sing, too. . . .
  7. “He was the first one here to help on the outdoor workday.” The whole scenario actually seemed odd to this church member – first because he wanted to guard his pastor’s time to study, and second because he’d seldom seen his pastor in anything other than a suit.
  8. “Our pastor was here today, but he was sitting in the third row with his family.” This pattern is changing among younger pastors, but there was a time when the pastor was always the one preaching as long as he was in town. Some folks never understood why he’d ever share the pulpit.
  9. “Pastor ______ was at the city council meeting last night, and he didn’t even say anything!” I wasn’t sure all that this church member was saying, but I think he was surprised his pastor was there simply because of his commitment to the community—not because he was praying or supporting a cause.
  10. “Hey, Pastor, what a surprise to see you here.” I was an interim pastor on a mission trip, and I unexpectedly ran into one of my church members halfway around the world. We were both surprised – and I was reminded that no matter where we are, somebody might be watching. 

So, if people are surprised at seeing their pastors somewhere, may it never be in an ungodly, compromising scenario – for either party.   


  • Sarah N says:

    I love this post, I think it’s helpful in seeing our pastors as real people and not put them on a pedestal. I have been blessed to see my pastor fully engage in every aspect of my church and helping members. He’s one of the coaches on his son’s baseball team, he goes to almost every move of church members and visits people regularly in the hospital. He helps with every church workday and a recent remodel project. It is a joy to have him labor side by side with us and to see him as a fellow person not just a “pastor”. Pastors have a special burden and responsibility and deserve our respect but they are also people like us. They want to be equal members of the church community and invited and included in the life of the church members.

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