woman-148699_1280After a discussion with my clergy group yesterday, I decided that many congregants could use some guidance in terms of interacting with their pastors–particularly in the post-worship receiving line. Feel free to make copies and share with those who may need it. (Note: Two of these are borrowed directly from a colleague in the group. I’m pretty creative, but there’s some stuff I just can’t make up.)

A Guide for Greeting Your Pastor
in the Receiving Line After Worship

If you want to say: “Nice sermon, Pastor.”
Instead try: “Because of what you said, I’m going to . . .”

If you want to say: “I really like your dress.”
Instead try: “I appreciate your insight into . . .”

If you want to say: “I’m not going to be able to make our meeting on Tuesday because my brother has to go to the doctor for his infected nose hair and he was supposed to watch his grandkids but now he can’t so I said I’d do it so can we reschedule for later that day or maybe Thursday? Yes. Thursday is free except for my hair appointment which I can’t miss because just look at my hair. Or I can do Friday but I’d rather not so later Tuesday or Thursday or I guess Friday could be OK. What works for you?
Instead try: “I will email you about rescheduling our appointment.”

If you want to say: “Here’s a pie I made for you.”
Instead try: “I put a pie on your desk.”

If you want to say: “I hated half the songs we sang this morning.”
Instead try: “I appreciate the variety of music included in our worship services.”

If you want to say: “I can’t do that thing I told you I would do because this other thing has come up.”
Instead try: “It is a privilege to serve God through this church and you, pastor, are a treasure and a joy.”

If you want to say: “I disagree with everything you said and demand you justify your opinions right now.”
Instead try: “Do you have any suggestions of things I could read to better understand your position?”

If you want to say: “Nice legs, Pastor.”
Instead try: Slipping out the back and leaving your poor pastor alone.

If you want to say: “We’re going to need to set the agenda for Thursday’s meeting. I know we need to talk about the ant problem and the neighborhood garage sale and the clogged toilets. I’ve heard some rumblings about the Mother’s Day brunch we should probably address as well. Do you have anything for the agenda?”
Instead try: “Nice sermon, Pastor.”


What’s the craziest thing someone has said to you as they shook your hand after the service? Please share in the comments below!

Rev. Joanna Harader serves as pastor of Peace Mennonite Church in Lawrence, Kansas–where they actually don’t ‘make her stand at the back and greet everyone after worship. Her blog is SpaciousFaith.com. 

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9 thoughts on “Wits’ Ends Day: What Not to Say

  1. What a delightful start to my day! I find that the receiving line comments differ greatly across culture, age, and intimacy but my youth were often quite happy to yell out across the crowded courtyard “Hey Ma, does Daddy know you’re out in that dress?” Others offered to buy my shoes. Frequently.


  2. Okay, so when I was a student pastor I actually had someone write me a lengthy note complimenting me on how I shook hands in the receiving line…good, firm grip (but not crushing their hand), dry palms, looked them square in the face/eye, and ending with the statement that I “wait for the person to walk up to them and shake their extended hand…not doing like Pastor who grabs, pulls me along and looks to see who and how many are behind me.” Strange but something I have always remembered in each church I’ve served.


  3. During a sermon I used the phrase, “What the heck.” Afterward, a gentleman came up to me and admonished, “Don’t ever use the word ‘heck’ from the pulpit again, it is a euphemism.” Every fiber of my being wanted to say, “What in the hell do you mean by that?” But I restrained myself.


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