Hand in Hand

Many Pastors that I meet around the world are wrestling with this question – how can I lead a successful church on the one hand and also engage effectively in transforming my community?

This article seeks to answer some of these questions. This is the journey of one Pastor.

He writes – ‘It really is quite simple.  Start with a conviction then have a conversation and get going.  Community transformation begins as we begin.  When we start, doors will open.  When doors open we can walk through to greater influence.  It’s not easy and on our small journey we’ve discovered a few things.

Firstly, it takes time. Too often we look for quick fixes in an attempt to increase the size of our Sunday congregation. If we approach transformation with this paradigm, then we will inevitably encounter disappointment and potential disillusionment. Our culture is riddled with fear and a lack of trust. Church is often understood to be part of the problem and not part of the solution. Community influence needs to be won through consistent love and faithful serving. This takes time and is often counter-cultural. We serve wherever we are and together become joyful hope carriers. Little by little trust is gained and hope shines. The good news of the kingdom becomes real and the story of hope found in Christ becomes the story we can tell with integrity.

Secondly it takes sacrifice. It is rare for kingdom influence to float down from the sky. Spiritual forces hide behind much of our culture and are overcome not only by prayer but through sacrificial giving of time, energy and finance. We’ve often found that at the moment of greatest challenge comes the greatest breakthrough. Faith never gives up.

Thirdly it will impact how we do and structure church. Church is not Sundays and is not a building. Church is a community of people called to transform the world. To redeem all that was lost. It’s all week, all year. We’ve had to restructure finance, staff and leadership so the focus is kingdom not just church. Kingdom is bigger than church. Well over 50% of our staff time is spent serving the community. We pastor the city not just the church. I have a feeling church needs to learn to pastor itself better and release the resources it has to pastor outside of itself. This doesn’t negate the need for discipleship but challenges us all to be disciple makers.

Fourthly.There’s a need to be creative.  Restored people are immensely creative and imaginative. It’s in us. We need to think beyond buildings and think people. Be creative in the use of what we have rather than worry about what we don’t have. Don’t fear failure but embrace the creative thinking and ideas. It’s amazing what one thought can spark. One day one thought came to me and it sparked so much. That thought? Let’s pastor the city.’

Written by Dave Warren, Senior Leader, St Paul’s Church, Worcester, UK