Central Baptist Church of Southington Connecticut


Answer the Phone

  • Jim Townsley
  • Dec 29, 2008

Today's means of communication has never been finer. We have the ability to call by using a telephone, either by a land line or a mobile phone. We can email or text people or we can use the traditional mail system which includes overnight delivery. Even overseas missionaries have Skype available to them, which provides instant communication at a low cost. Yet, it can be frustrating that in today's technical age some pastors can not be reached. I have called churches where the automated attendant sent me to a voicemail which is never answered. Worse yet, there are churches that have no answering machine and the phone simply rings and rings and no one answers.

We must remember that people are our business and if they can not reach us we are failing in our ministry. The preacher must be available to people. From personal experience I can tell you that the use of the automated attendant was a source of numerous complaints. The obvious solution was to go back to answering the phone. People like to contact a real person who can answer their questions and give them information.

In a small church where a secretary is not affordable an answering machine is a must, however it is much better to have a personal cell phone that is used as the main church number. That way people can contact you even when you are not in the office. Your voice mail message should be polite and dignified. A family calling for the pastor to assist in the loss of a loved one will be embarrassed by a funny or clever recorded message. The voice message should have the name of the church, your name, and a polite, "I will return your call as quickly as possible."

Then, you must return that call! Do not look at the caller I.D. and decide you don't want to take that call. Check your voice mail frequently and return all calls promptly. At the end of the day every effort should be made to respond to every message. Remember, some calls are urgent and require immediate attention. No preacher should acquire the reputation of never returning calls. If your members know you won't return their calls promptly they will stop calling and may eventually find a pastor who will communicate with them. How can we expect our church to grow and prosper when we are not available? A lost soul seeking help could become discouraged and give up because he can not reach someone who could help him.

Review your present procedure and honestly evaluate whether or not you are "people friendly." Our society is over informed and less personal than any civilization in history. The preacher's phone is his lifeline to people and necessary for the growth of the church. Answering the phone sends a message to those calling. Your conscientious effort to reply to messages and making yourself available for people conveys the proper message; that the caller really is important to you. The telephone is a powerful tool, and if used properly it will be a tremendous asset your ministry.