I have a growing conviction. God didn’t just call me to pastor a church. He called me to pastor a city. My calling is not just to serve a local body of believers, but to influence a community towards faith in Jesus.
There is a fascinating verse in 1 Samuel 9:6. The servant of Saul says, "Look, in this town there is a man of God; he is highly respected, and everything he says comes true. Let's go there now. Perhaps he will tell us what way to take.” Years ago at a pastors conference I heard a stirring sermon from this verse called, “Is there a man of God in your city?”
God used this sermon to help me see beyond the walls of my church. My ministry is not just to an city address, but to an entire community, whether they ever enter to doors of our church or not.
Many communities are not looking to the church as an agent for hope and change. A 2013 Pew Research Poll shows that only 37% of society has a favorable view of pastors, and 11% say pastors contribute “not very much” or “nothing at all.” Stats like this can either discourage us, or challenge us to have a greater impact.
Being a spiritual influence in my community sounds like a great idea, but in reality, it’s not easy to do. Pastoring a city takes time, consistency, and the intentional building of relationships. Many weeks I find it hard to get away from the busyness of church administraion. It seems to take all my time just to serve my congregation. How can I pastor a city? Here are some things we can consider...
1. Slow down your pace and notice people around you.
I’m asking God to help me see ordinary people around me, and how I can bless them. Just asking someone’s name, saying thank you, or offering a word of kindness makes a huge difference. I now regularly speak to Patricia who cleans the tables at my favorite Mexican restaurant. Because we have consistently served our local police department, several LA police officers will wave and call out my name as they see me outside our church. I address my grocery store clerks by name as I see them weekly. Each person I meet is an opportunity for spiritual influence.
I have a tendency to be a quick paced, task-oriented person, but slowing down has helped me engage with more people.
2. Build relationships with the influencers in your community.
I have been encouraged by the writing of Pastor Brian Jones and author Keith Farrazi to identify and build relationships with key leaders in my community. Consider having lunch or coffee with these influencers. At a minimum go to their office to introduce yourself, exchange business cards, and let them know you are available to serve the community.
As you meet with community leaders you have the opportunity to..
Consider meeting and starting a relationship with…
3. Discover two or three significant community needs God can use your congregation to meet.
As you learn the needs of your community from these key leaders, you’ll come across a need that matches the skills and gifting of your congregation. Our congregation is currently considering how we can make a difference in these three areas:
4. Take advantage of existing community events and organizations where you can add influence.
Most communities have annual events and are desperate for volunteers. Perhaps your church can lead a key aspect of the event. Look for community organizations that would allow you to add value and build relationships.
5. Make a long-term commitment.
Our communities are used to seeing pastors come and go. Don’t be offended if at first they are not too excited about your offer to help. As you faithfully and consistently serve your community your influence for Christ will grow.
I’m convinced our communities need us more than ever before. There is a vacuum of spiritual leadership in our cities, and as pastors God wants to use us to meet the need.
Continue the conversation: What is your church doing to impact your local community?
Hi! I'm Loren Hicks. I am follower of Jesus, a husband, a father, a friend, and for the past