How Many Visits?
I've struggled knowing how many visits are expected. So, I did a bit of research, and this is what I've learned.
The rule of thumb is a pastor should visit 5-10 percent of its congregation each week. I'm not sure where this percentage comes from, but Dr. Kennon Callahan in his book Twelve Keys to an Effective Church supports it.
Dr. Callahan divides these visits into three groups. For a church of 200, he recommends 20 visits a week with church members. Another 20 visits per week with unchurched in the community. He as; recommends an "adequate visitation to persons who are hospitalized and homebound."
If you are keeping up with the numbers, that comes to 40 plus visits per week.
If I use my current church and round up, I come up with 10 visits per week. But I need to add another 10 unchurched visits. Oh, and since I have an older congregation, there is always someone in the hospital or homebound. That would be around 25 visits per week!
How about you? Using the above formula, how many visits should you make each week?
How Long Should a Visit Last?
When I visit people in the hospital, I am in and out within15 minutes. I seem to be a bit fast because my research says 30 minutes of less is the desired amount of time for a hospital visit.
But how long should a normal visit last? Returning to Dr. Callahan's book, he presents a formula called the Callahan Principle. The Callahan Principle calculates the time a pastor should spend in visitation. Here's the principle - a pastor should spend one hour of visitation for every minute spent in preaching. So, a 30-minute sermon requires 30 hours of visitation time.
Depending on your numbers, the length of each visit would be between 60-90 minutes. My in-home visits may last about an hour. I also meet people for breakfast or coffee. These visits can last as much as 90 minutes.
How about you? How long do you visit?
What Counts as a Visit?
The word "visit" makes me think of an in-person, face to face visit. But considering the amount and length of these visits, maybe I should broaden the definition.
Before I redefine a visit, let's consider the purpose of a visit. The purpose of a visit must be to build relationships. Time together helps us grow in our understanding and love for one another.
So, can I accomplish the same thing with a phone call? Can I build a relationship with a phone call?
I think the answer to that question is "yes." Phone calls can be used to build relationships.
Also, phone calls have some advantages. Phone calls are less intrusive. When you call, the person doesn't have to clean the house or run a comb through their hair. Phone calls help with those who are not social, especially since COVID. Post COVID, many people are less social. Not everyone appreciates people dropping by.
What about a text message? Can you count a text as a visit? I don't think so.
Texts can be a great tool to check in, to encourage someone, or send a thought. But it is difficult to build a relationship through texting.
What do you think? Does a phone call count as a visit? And what do you do with texting?
It Seems Impossible, But There's a Way
I'll be frank with you. It's impossible for me to devote 35 hours per week visiting 25 people. But if I delegate 50 percent of the visits, then it is possible.
Again, Dr. Callahan, in Twelve Keys to an Effective Church recommends that the pastor train a visitation team and then split the visits between the pastor and the team. He strongly suggests that the pastor stay involved in the visitation process.
You should grab a copy of Twelve Keys to an Effective Church by Dr. Kennon L. Callahan. He does present a manageable system for church visitation as well as 11 other keys to make the church more effective.
I would love to learn from you. How many visits do you make per week? How long do your visits last? And do you count a phone call as a visit? Please share your thoughts in the comment section.
I Stand Corrected
After publishing the above, Dave Mason, with Military Evangelism, sent me a text and shared how he visits the marines stationed near his outreach. Dave shared that a primary way he builds relationships is through texting. "Text Counseling" he calls it. He explained that 18-24 young men are not as comfortable with face-to-face conversations.
After hearing from Dave, I read how young couples spend an inordinate amount time getting to know each other through texting. That proves you can use texting to build relationship. So, I think we can count texting as a visit, especially with younger church members.