10 Community People I’d Want to Know as a Pastor

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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? 


  • Pete Pharis says:

    I serve in an extremely small county seat town. I am new here, just since July. The people I’ve found to be good to know include:

    The local funeral home director and supervisors of cemeteries, particularly the older, rural, ethnic ones (The old, rural, ethnic cemeteries, not to imply the supervisors are old, rural, and ethnic, (but they usually are.)) Your church, no matter how young it might be, has a history within your community. Also, certain family names have experienced historic notoriety, good and bad. (AND, everyone is somehow related to everyone else!) Local historians, and librarian for the same reasons. They can help you understand community dynamics and even find people when no one else can.

    City/county utilities directors, electric company customer services manager, sheriff and jail captain, Crisis Pregnancy Center, laundromat owner, Nursing home intake director. Pre-school and after-school children, senior adult, and handicapped people daycare facilities, group foster care and children’s homes. Free or subsidized transportation dispatcher. When you need their assistance, you often don’t have the time to get to know them.

    The mailman and delivery truck drivers (you would be surprised how observant they are of your community. Besides that, they don’t chunk your packages quite as rough if they know you will recognize them later.)

    Courthouse deputies (They see families who are suffering every conceivable tragedy.)

    High school athletic director. Our head coach knows the family and home situations of most of the kids in school. (Sports are big for teenagers and their families. He can give you a calendar of events and possibly a pass to get in to games. We have a breakfast at the church every Friday for the football team, the coach requires them to attend even though he is not a member of my church. Even if you don’t get to say hello, the kids will notice when you show up for games.)

    Health Department director. I know they deal with confidential matters, but they see ministry needs and can offer referral advice when someone needs more than they can offer. (I also have 30 years experience drawing blood, I am working on volunteering at the Health Department a couple of hours a week to get to know a segment of the population that would not normally come to our church.)

    Local business owners. (Always try to stay local–it will get noticed): The local barber. Even though she is not a member at my church, she knew I was the new preacher before we moved to town. News travels fast. The hardware store owner and manager. (for church project advice and materials.) T-shirt, flyer and banner print shops, plumbers, electricians, handy-men, auto mechanics, discount grocery manager. (all for ministry resources.)

    The editor of the local paper and the station manager of a local (popular) radio station for favorable exposure in the community.

    Bar owner (Pay attention!–not as customer of course. Meet somewhere else and don’t judge, but show sympathy for those hurting and in trouble. They may refer them to you if they know they can trust your concern.) (Besides that, you may need to find a deacon some night! HA!)

    County Agriculture Agent. In my experience, the local farmers and ranchers are more open to a pastor who knows what is grown and sold in the area, don’t be ignorant of the careers of your people. Ag agents can fill you in when changes in the weather or production spells hardship for the region. Ag agents can quickly get you up to speed on things that are easy to grow where you live. Rural church members respect a pastor who makes the effort to grow something in his own yard. It suggests you intend to stay around for a while.

    Not a person but more of a place. The local coffee shop owner and waitresses where the wise men meet for breakfast and solve the world’s problems.

    Service or professional networking organizations such as Rotary, Kiwanis, and Optimist clubs. The pastor is a professional and should socialize with other professionals.

    RV park, and apartment complex activities directors to establish on-site Bible study and ministries. County park and recreation director (places to hold big events.)

    Community college administrators and directors for trade schools. One of my favorite ministries was at the cosmetology school near us. Every two weeks I received 45 minutes with a captive audience of 2 students and the head instructor. I soon became the school’s chaplain. When I started sending church members over, they received the same sort of attention and got a pretty good haircut for only a few dollars. When I got to know the welding teacher, they were available for small projects, (and it was a blast to get the cosmetology girls and the welding guys together for lunch!) I also got to know the college choir director. The secular choir prepared religious music and sang at Christmas and Easter. (We were a small church, we couldn’t fill the choir loft.)

    There must be many more. When you feel there are few opportunities for ministry or for someone to minister to you, you just don’t know enough people.

  • Dear Pete Pharis,
    A great response and great detail. Two more ideas that you did not mention.

    In the USA there are 573 federal recognized tribes and there are 63 state-recognized tribes in 11 states—Alabama, Connecticut, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Vermont and Virginia. Most tribes have tribal chaplains. My tribe the Oklahoma Choctaw is a 2/3 of a billion dollar corporation for example is doing federally funded drone research. Contact the tribal leadership about having lunch.

    Orthodox and or Catholic Evangelical community leaders that are reaching out in your community. 20% of the un-churched are Born Again Christians according to Barna Research Group. Catholics reach born again Christians who do not want to go to a Catholic church. One in eleven un-churched Christians are Catholic, but there are some Catholics do not want to go to a protestant church to hear about salvation. Evangelical Catholics will partner with protestant evangelicals to reach someone for salvation. I actually found out about this by accident and frustration. It is simple go out to lunch once per year and talk about church politics. They have your cell number for those they can not reach.

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