Church Leadership
Why Most Pastors Aren’t Answering Your Phone Calls
It's one the great mysteries of ministry. Why do pastors have such a bad reputation for answering or returning phone calls? Here are 9 reasons.

If you’re a missionary, evangelist, or someone else who spends time trying to get in touch with pastors on the phone, I feel for you.

Pastors are notoriously bad at answering or returning phone calls.

I admit, I’m one of them.

It’s not because we’re lazy, disorganized or uncaring – not most of the time.

Here are 9 reasons it’s often hard to get a pastor on the phone:

1. There are too many calls to answer

I screen all my calls.

And I don’t return half of them. Because most of them are sales calls.

Unless your name comes up on my caller ID, I will not answer – and there’s very little chance that I’ll call you back.

“But you’re a pastor! Aren’t you supposed to be available to everyone?”

Actually, no.

I’m supposed to be available to my family, my friends, my church members and ministry colleagues.

And I can’t be as available to them as I need to be if I’m answering or returning every phone call I get.

2. Good leaders are proactive

Answering a phone call is reactive. It’s talking on your schedule, not mine.

Waiting to return a call on my schedule is not a power move (although some play that game). It’s one aspect of proper time management.

Proactive pastors initiate more conversations than they respond to.

Good leaders are more proactive than reactive. Proactive pastors initiate more conversations than they respond to.

It’s not that we never react. Emergencies happen and life must be responded to. But answering all or most phone calls keeps the pastor in a much more reactive mode than they should be in.

3. Most pastors don't have a phone on their desk anymore – or a desk

I don’t sit at my desk waiting for calls. Very few pastors do.

And, even if I did, there’s no phone on it. Old-school phone systems that go through a church secretary are fast becoming a thing of the past. They’re inefficient, expensive, clumsy and often unnecessary.

We have cell phones now. Which is great, because they can go with us anywhere. But it’s not so great, because they go with us everywhere!

4. We have personal lives

Sometimes we look at the name on an incoming call and just say “no”.

Because we have personal lives that must be guarded.

But what about the times people call pastors in the middle of the work day and still don’t get an answer? It’s often because a pastor’s personal life doesn’t always correspond to most people’s off-hours.

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The views of the blogger do not necessarily reflect those of Christianity Today.

August 24, 2016 at 1:42 AM

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