Overcoming Obstacles to Member Visitation in the 21st Century
“The home-going pastor makes a church-going people.” This advice has been given to pastors for more than 150 years, but is it true, relevant, or even practical for a 21st century pastor to conduct regular personal visits with his members in their homes, or anywhere else for that matter? This paper seeks to answer the question, “How can a pastor overcome obstacles to pastoral visitation in the 21st century?” After studying the biblical basis for pastoral visitation, I researched obstacles to member visitation by interviewing more than 20 pastors and by polling 88 pastors and 473 lay members using two online SurveyMonkey surveys. I also consulted recent articles and books to learn about cultural and sociological obstacles to in-home visitation. I collected data from the online surveys to challenge the perceived obstacles to visitation and to compile current ideas and strategies for overcoming obstacles. Finally, I organized and reported on the congregational and pastoral benefits to regular member visitation. This thesis concludes that pastoral visitation is still beneficial, viable, and advisable in the 21st century. Some perceived obstacles are actually stereotypes that can be turned into opportunities, and the true obstacles to visitation can be overcome with prioritization and planning.