As a pastor for many years, I thought I knew my community well—particularly the community where I pastored for more than 11 years. Looking back now, though, I realize how many opportunities I missed to know my community better. Today, I’d want to know personally at least these community leaders:
- Other pastors in the city. I may not get to know all of them, but I’d want to help promote unity rather than division among evangelical pastors.
- The mayor. That person may change in the course of a ministry, but knowing the primary political leader can be a good thing. If you can’t get access to the mayor, get to know a councilmember.
- The school district superintendent. He or she should know the needs of the local schools—and local churches have opportunities to meet some of these needs.
- At least one local school principal. In this case, I’d seek to partner with at least one school in a longer-term relationship. Perhaps we could reach administrators and teachers through these efforts.
- Chamber of Commerce president. This leader generally has a handle on what’s happening in the local business community, and pastors involved at some level with the Chamber have opportunities to develop relationships with other leaders.
- Planning department leaders. The name of this department may vary in each community, but I would always want to know the leaders who have knowledge of future development plans in the area.
- Food pantry or homeless shelter leaders. Even in the most affluent communities, these kinds of needs arise. Knowing what resources are available will make us better pastors.
- Police chief and fire chief. These first respondents daily face tough issues, and they lead men and women who put their lives on the line every day. We need to know them and be a pastoral resource for them.
- Hospital chaplains. You never know when you’ll need their help in ministering to a church member. Plus, they’re good resources for training your laypeople to minister in health crises.
- A local Christian counselor. I would have done a lot less counseling had I (a) admitted what I didn’t know, and (b) knew a trusted counselor to whom I could refer my members.
What other community leaders would you want a pastor to know?