Written by Keith Doornbos
April 24, 2024

Pastoring the Local Community

What do high impact congregations have in common? We'll begin with how a congregation can pastor its local community.

What do high impact congregations have in common? That is the question the developers of the REVEAL Survey (REVEAL measures the discipleship health of a congregation) wanted to answer when they asked pastors from the highest scoring congregations to gather in Chicago.

  • Five factors percolated to the surface. These disciple-making churches: 1) Get people moving; 2) Embed the Bible in everything; 3) Create ownership; 4) Have Christ-centered leadership; 5) Pastor their local communities.

In the future we will explore all five. For now, let’s consider how a congregation can pastor its local community.

Eight ways churches can pastor their communities
  1. Discover the pastoral needs in your community
  • Every community has both common pastoral needs and specific needs that are unique to their particular location. Through the MissionInsite tool, conversations with community leaders, and connections with neighbors, you can discover what those needs are and begin imagining how your congregation can help meet those needs.
  1. Begin with prayer
  • The Spirit can minister grace to a community when a congregation prays. Some good practices that marry prayer and pastoral care include offering congregational prayers with a community focus, going on prayer walks, and regularly sharing community prayer concerns with the congregation.
  1. Let the community know you care
  • Send notes to people living in the community when they are celebrating or hurting. Check-in when a tough life circumstance happens (like a fire). Use Facebook and other social media to let the community know you are there for them and how to contact you. A sign out front saying the same can help.
  1. Develop ministries that meet the felt needs
  • Offering grief support, addition recovery, single parent care, financial counseling, vehicle repair, legal support, family counseling, life coaching, refugee assistance, and emergency housing are ways to care for a community. No congregation can do everything. Choose one or two, and dive in.
  1.  Teach members good neighboring
  • The most important way to pastor a local community is through members living in the community. Teach the congregation practices of being good neighbors. A place to begin is by having congregants read THE ART OF NEIGHBORING by Jay Pathak and Dave Runyan.
  1. Be facility generous
  • The church is often one of the largest gathering spaces in the community. Make the congregation’s facility available at little or no cost to the community for weddings, funeral, recitals, school programs, and association gatherings. Double down on hospitality by having staff or volunteers act as hospitality hosts.
  1. Partner with community agencies
  • Serving as a police or fire chaplain can be a direct line to pastoring the community. Let area funeral homes know of your availability. Partner with local public schools in creating a mentoring program for at-risk kids. Volunteer at the agency that provides emergency food and shelter to local residents.
  1. Get outside
  • Congregations that care for their community find reasons to get outside where the church and community can meet. Offering fall festivals in the church’s parking lot, cleaning up the community, helping local schools get ready for the return of students, and even outdoor worship gatherings can create pastoral connections.

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