5 Tips on How to Be a Pastor to Your City

By Lizzie Ng

There’s more happening in your city than meets the eye. It can be easy to think God’s activity is confined to what we see in our single church congregation or non-profit organization. But do you know how to view God at work at work to reach your city? Our team—City Gospel Movements at Palau—champions leaders who are not content running programs in the four walls of their church. These leaders are restless to see local churches unite and work together for the peace and prosperity of their city.

This tapestry of God at work to reach your city through dynamic collaborations is what we call gospel movement.

These collaborations pursue holistic city flourishing and invite the participation of anyone who believes Jesus can transform their city through the unity of the Church (Jeremiah 29:7; John 17).

Is your heart beating for the same thing? If so, you’re in good company. Over the last two years, our team has spoken with over 300 leaders from the USA and around the world who are working to unify and mobilize local churches to participate in the gospel movement in their city.

Learn five steps we see these leaders consistently taking so you can join the gospel movement to reach your city:

1. Reach Your City by Searching for Fellow Collaborators.

Don’t go alone. Take time to find and develop relationships with those who already have a passion for your city. They’re out there! You aren’t alone in your desire to see your city flourish, but you may need to step outside of your industry to discover others with the same passion. You will know you’re in the company of a collaborator if they are willing to share connections because they recognize you share a common mission; they don’t care if their name or organization is displayed on a program; and they understand they have a key role to play in the city but believe greater impact can be had through working with others.

Some of the most dynamic collaborators won’t share your job title. If you’re a pastor, reach out to a fellow businessperson. If you’re an executive director, offer to buy coffee for a school superintendent. Hear their dreams for your city and be expectant to find overlapping visions. This process takes time because it is all about building genuine relationships. But be encouraged because once you meet one collaborator, they’ll likely connect you to another. As you meet these people of peace in various channels of culture, each leader’s expertise adds invaluable perspective to a citywide strategy, and a unique network they are uniquely called by God to influence.

2. Reach Your City by Picking Brains to Learn What Not to Do.

Sometimes we think we’re the only one thinking a certain way. We can think: “Why am I the only one who cares that pastors are dying for a safe place where they can show up as they are?” or “Why don’t all people in our city care about the homelessness epidemic?” Full of passion—or angst—we start an initiative, program or non-profit to address these issues, often forgetting to do the research to understand who’s already in the game. Give yourself permission to pump the breaks and do a little market research to find out who in your city is already working towards a similar goal. This process may motivate you to join or partner with a good thing that is already moving, or tweak your plan so that you’re filling a real gap that exists.

3. Reach Your City by Giving Yourself Decades, Not Years.

Seeing a city change takes years (if we’re being completely honest, think decades). City transformation is a long game. Building relational trust on which collaboration is driven takes years, and then planning initiatives to pursue together also takes time. It can feel like an overwhelming goal to change the statistics on homelessness, foster care, and education in a matter of years. We’ve found that leaders experience more creativity and freedom to dream big when they frame their engagement in the city in terms of decades.

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Source: Church Leaders