The Pastoral Ministry of Shaking Hands

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  • Business HandshakeDo you feel like shaking hands?

    I am often asked this question when I finish preaching away from home.

    I always answer affirmatively. Sometimes I add, “If they can sit and listen to me preach for forty-five minutes, the least I can do is stand and shake their hands.”

    On occasion, I cannot hide how shocked I am to be asked the question, even though I have heard it countless times. Of course I am going to shake hands, whether I feel like it or not.

    Preaching is hard work. If a man takes his work seriously, sermon preparation is costly. And the preaching act, though brief in comparison to the time of preparation, is draining.

    Some preachers respond to the aftermath of preaching by retreating to the study to recover. Others preachers think they are celebrities and don’t want to be bothered with the little people. It’s an “Elvis has left the building!” thing.

    But I contend it is a good thing for a pastor to hang around after services to shake hands with church members. It is not just a courteous thing to do. You should consider it further ministry to the people you minister to in the pulpit.

    Praying for a politician running for reelection. Celebrating with a brother whose son finally came to Christ. Receiving a praise report from a member who had surgery. Hearing how the Lord used a particular sermon I preached to change a life. Meeting a little girl who begged her parents to talk to the pastor. Receiving an update on a sick member. Ministering to a new resident of the city who is looking for a church. Thanking a faithful volunteer for his faithful but often unnoticed service.

    These encounters were not part of my office schedule from last week. They were opportunities I had by shaking hands after church this past Sunday.

    Because of the size of the church I serve, sticking around after services is all the more important. It may be the only opportunity some members will get to have personal interaction with me.

    I owe it to my people to give them this opportunity to speak to me after church – be is a simple hug and thanks for the message to a major issue they need me to cover in believing prayer.

    Do I feel like shaking hands after service? Nope. Many Sundays, I am so tired after preaching I doubt if I will have the strength to drive home. But I don’t use that as an excuse to miss the tremendous ministry opportunity I have by simply shaking hands after church.

    Neither should you.


    H.B. Charles Jr.

    Pastor-Teacher at the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church of Jacksonville and Orange Park, Florida.