Etiquette for Having a Pastor in Your Home for Dinner

Dinner in your home is a good way to get to know your pastor.
... Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Many parishioners are intimidated at the thought of inviting their pastor to dinner, but it is worth making the effort to get to know your spiritual leader better. After all, this is the person you will most likely turn to during major life events and in your moments of greatest need. An invitation to dinner in your home is a friendly and appropriate gesture to express thanks and goodwill.

1 Make it a family affair

The Christian church is built on the model of a family so it is considerate to include the pastor’s family when you extend the invitation. Do not impose on your pastor to hire a babysitter unless you are hosting a formal affair with other couples in attendance. Besides, embracing the family helps keep the atmosphere light. If you do not have children around the same age, provide some kid-friendly activities or a G-rated movie to give the grownups time to chat after dinner.

2 Say grace

Do not forget the blessing.
... Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images

Say a blessing before the meal. A common dinner blessing is “Bless, O Lord, this food to our use and us to thy service, and keep us ever mindful of the needs of others. In Jesus' Name, Amen.” For a nice touch, ask one of your children to say grace, especially if this is customary around your family dinner table. Do not automatically expect the pastor to be the one to pray for a meal you serve in your home. If the pastor offers, you may certainly accept.

3 Be appropriate

The dinner table is not a confessional booth. When you consider topics of conversation, try to find common interests as you would with any acquaintance. Keep the visit social. Intellectual discussions are fine as are questions about the church and your faith, but do not turn the evening into a gossip fest or a private counseling session. Do not talk about other church members or discuss overly personal issues in your own life.

4 Do not offend

Mind those commandments, and do not take the Lord’s name in vain. A casual “Oh, my God” can be deeply offensive, although “Oh, my gosh” may not elicit such a negative reaction. Do not plan on serving wine with dinner unless you know your pastor does not disapprove of alcoholic beverages. Most protestant ministers do not believe drinking alcohol is sinful, but many do not drink because they think it sets a bad example. Your pastor’s views toward alcohol can depend on denominational beliefs or personal convictions.

Bonnie Denmark has devoted her professional life to intercultural, educational and accessibility issues. With an MA in linguistics and teacher certification in English, ESL and Spanish, she has worked as a computational linguist, educator and writer. Denmark has worked internationally as a language instructor, educational technology consultant and teacher trainer.