5 Reminders When You are the Community’s Pastor

There are times when a pastor is launched into the role of being a community pastor. At this point, it doesn’t matter the size of the church or the notoriety of the pastor. The community is looking for the pastor to lead.

Here are a few examples:

  • An influential person in the community — or a popular youth dies — and you are asked to do what a very large funeral.
  • Tragedy occurs — the kind which attracts national media attention — and you are sought to provide spiritual insight.
  • Natural disaster devastates the community and the church is heavily recruited in the recovery.
  • You are asked to speak at a public event.
  • Major cultural shifts occur that are newsworthy or impact the church and your opinion is solicited or expected.

For brief moments in time — an hour — a day — a week — all eyes are on the pastor for spiritual insight, guidance, comfort or a sense of direction.

What do you do in those times?

Several times as a pastor I’ve found myself in this position. It can be a humbling and even overwhelming place to be. I’ve learned how I respond in those situations impacts more than this specific incident.

These settings can come regardless of the church or community’s size. When they do the way you respond is of Kingdom importance.

Here are 5 reminders when you are the community’s pastor:

Speak truth in love – Don’t water down truth in these occasions, but don’t beat people up with truth either. Be like Jesus, full of grace and truth. Share God’s Word, but don’t use it as a weapon against the community. You will never be taken serious if they see you as judgmental and uncaring. Win them over with genuine love and helpful truth. These situations may give you a greater opportunity for influence for Christ in the days to come.

Don’t recruit for a church recruit for Jesus – There’s nothing worse, in my opinion, than a pastor in a community setting who spends more time trying to recruit for his individual church than he does sharing the love of Christ. In settings where everyone sees you as the pastor, but not everyone is from your “flock”, use it as an opportunity to lift a Christ banner high, not your church banner. If they are impressed with the Jesus you proclaim, they’ll be more likely to find your church. Be mindful of doctrinal divisions that have divided people for years. In public settings, let the main thing be the main thing. Keep your focus upon doctrines which all of mainline Christianity can agree.

Build trust – You do that best by letting Jesus should shine through in all you do. You don’t want people to be impressed with you. You want them impressed with Jesus. People can tell when you are trying to build your own platform or soapbox. This may mean you simply build relationships like Jesus did with the tax collectors. Don’t assume you have to “preach” to take advantage of the opportunity. Your best use may be to build trust for future conversations.

Provide people hope – More than anything in these settings — share the hope of the Gospel. That’s likely why you are invited to this opportunity. This is probably not the time to bring forth condemnation. Don’t back away from truth, but make sure whatever you share is clearly seen in the context of a God who IS LOVE. Make it your intent to be helpful to people who are hurting. 

Be likable and natural – Let people see you as real and approachable. Take time to shake hands, embrace, cry with people who are grieving if necessary. The more they see you as a regular person (just like Elijah — James 5:17) and not like someone above them positionally or superior to them in moral value, the more likely they’ll be to trust the comfort you bring and cling to the God you serve.

It doesn’t happen often, but on the occasions where you have a larger, community audience, allow God to use you for a greater and longer term benefit to the Kingdom.

Have you ever been the community’s pastor? What would you add to my list?

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9 thoughts on “5 Reminders When You are the Community’s Pastor

  1. A community pastor is the leader of his society or group of people and all the subordinate people will follow his action in all aspects of their life. His opinion, suggestion, command or instruction have great value for followers and he don't have an opportunity of misleading so your 5 reminders are pretty helpful to be a successful and most liked community pastor.

  2. Great post here, Ron. Back in the spring of this year, I was thrust as a young pastor and fairly new to a rural community into this role when a popular teenager who was a member of our church died in an accident. These five things that you have mentioned were either told to me or learned another way during the days that have followed. I also believe strongly in authenticity, but I know for our situation and area point 2 was big. It is so tempting to just point people to our congregations, but we are supposed to be pointing them to Jesus. Trust and allow the Holy Spirit to place them where they need to be. Many of the people that I've talked with after the incident have joined congregations other than mine – and I am fine with that…

  3. I have been in this position a few times, I think your last reminder hits on it, but be Authentic. the greatest compliment I get in our community is when people tell me I am the same person on Sunday as I am the rest of the week. Be who you are.

  4. Two years ago our prosecuting attorney died unexpectedly. His daughter went to the church I pastor so I was asked to take part in the service, along with one of the judges. It was attended by all sorts of law enforcement types as well, paying honor to one whom they had worked alongside. I certainly can't remember what I said but I do remember paying respect to the officials along because of their faithfulness in doing their work. I think it went well. I like your list Ron.