Pastoral Initiatives that Work

by Greg Lee, Lead Pastor, Suncrest Christian Church, St. John, Indiana

Using the Pastoral Prayer to Highlight Community Initiatives and Build Goodwill

Background: 

I’ve been trying to engage the community and community leaders much more since my experience as a Wabash Pastoral Fellow.  Recently, I landed on a very simple approach that became a total “win-win” that other pastors could easily utilize also.

Key Setting for this Initiative:

Though not as common as it once was, a role that pastors commonly find themselves in is offering a prayer in some form (Invocation, Benediction, Memorial, or before the meal) at various community-oriented events.  In this case, I was to offer a prayer at a sportsmanship dinner for all of the high school basketball teams in our region.

What I Did: 

Previously when I’ve prayed at similar events, I met a few leaders, made some small talk, said the prayer, quietly appreciated the effort of those involved and went on my way.  This time, I simply decided to take a small next step.  I decided to write a piece about my admiration for the cause and the leaders and sent it to the newspaper as a “Guest Commentary”. 

Our newspaper (The Times of Northwest Indiana) serves a 3-county region with 800,000 people.  I think I always assumed they wouldn’t be interested in what I would write.  That is a wrong assumption.  I’ve written two simple articles in the last few months and they have published both of them in the Sunday editions.

The Good it Did:

First, a positive community effort got highlighted with good press.  I want the good news o get told more often and this was one way to do that. 

Second, it was a Pastor’s voice lifting up a community endeavor.  I hope it lifts up credibility for all pastors  and reminds people that faith, churches and pastoral leadership has a key role to play in the life of a community.

Third, the community/business leaders that organized the event are now my biggest fans.  They appreciated me highlighting their event.  Only one of them is from our church, but it has established a positive relationship for me with all of them very quickly.  I didn’t expect this outcome, but ultimately it might have the most return on investment for me and my pastoral leadership in the community.

Conclusion:

I have to imagine this would work for almost any community event.  This single article took 30 minutes to write and gave me more good-will among these leaders than going to chamber lunches for years for years. 

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