by Greg Lee, Lead Pastor, Suncrest Christian Church, St. John, Indiana
Using the Pastoral Prayer to Highlight Community Initiatives and Build Goodwill
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.
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.