The Ministry of Loitering
I asked him how we do that in practice. He immediately started talking about the importance of personal accessibility among pastors: the importance of even the most senior leaders in the church being directly involved in people’s lives, helping and serving and praying for people, rather than delegating all of that to junior minions while they focus exclusively on purportedly high-level stuff. In very large churches, or environments where pastors have very little available time (because they are working three jobs, for instance), it can be difficult.
For some of us, a key part of it is simply the ministry of loitering. We turn up before the Sunday meeting, or the prayer meeting, or whatever, and we hang around. We don’t hide; we are present, visible, available. We hover. We chat to whomever happens to be there (in my experience this often involves older and quieter people, who are the very people I might not otherwise talk to). We stick around after the meeting, wherever possible, to be available to pray. It may not take a huge amount of time - it could involve a mere fifteen minutes before and afterwards - and sometimes there won’t even be anyone there. But it can make a huge difference to your accessibility: the perception you (and the church) have of how easy it is to get hold of you, talk to you, and build relationship with you.
Loitering can help. There won’t be any books coming out on it this year, but in a number of contexts it’s a powerful practice.