The Value and Importance of Pastoral Visitation, Responses to Thom Rainer

Recently Thom Rainer posted a column titled, “FIFTEEN REASONS WHY YOUR PASTOR SHOULD NOT VISIT MUCH.” I first heard about it from a former student who recognized that this column argued the direct antithesis of what I teach in my pastoral ministry class and what I advocate for at this site.

Thom has been helpful to many pastors, but this piece was deeply flawed and needed response. I discovered, however, that there was no need for me to respond since there are several good responses already written. Here are four good ones:

David Robertson at the Aquila Report, “The Pastor as Chief Visitor”

Gary Shogren, “Will it Kill Your Pastor if He Visits You?”

David Murray, “Pastoral Visitation a ‘Sign of Sickness’ and a “step Toward Death”?

Andrew Roy Croft, “15 Reasons Why Visitation is Vital for Your Pastor”

These men point out the historical and biblical problems with Thom’s argument. Of course, there can be a problem of people being too demanding in terms of visitation, but we must not lose the fact that pastoral visitation is central to the task of pastoring and has been recognized as such across the centuries of church history (which is often noted at this site).

Croft’s post is especially helpful in articulating the positive case for pastoral visitation.


  1. Hey Barry. Brian Croft has a number of helpful items on this topic over at Practical Shepherding. Here is a link to a search I just did there for “visiting”
    He has a book on hospital visitation as well.
    Those resources deal with various aspects of making these visits well. I am not sure if they deal with making time for them. This can be an ongoing challenge, but I think the main thing is to keep at it. If we are consistently touching base with members we will make better progress than we might expect

  2. Ray, what are some of the best resources you can refer me to for: (1) How to make time for pastoral visits, and (2) how specifically to conduct pastoral visits? Thanks.

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