How do you engage pastors to unify and mobilize to see a city revitalized? How do you incite them to action? Here are some practical steps to begin this process.
First, Connect with local pastors. Call them. Drop by their churches. Ask the Lord where to go. Engage secretaries and administrative staff. They are the pastor’s first defense. Ask the secretarial questions as well as the pastors when you sit down with them. I.e. How did you come to this church? How did you become a pastor? How long have you been in this city? What is your heart for this city? We can so arrogantly jump ahead, thinking our idea is the best when we need to first Listen and Connect, and then share.
For example, Esther went to the King, ultimately to plead the case of her people. She could have asked right then and there but she waited. She spoke with the king, dined with him, and I am sure encouraged him. Although her request was urgent as the matter was literally life or death for her people, she still didn’t rush her request. She made time to connect, encourage, and THEN plead her case. Don’t rush connection. Build it. Let it grow, “and you will surely reap a harvest if you do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).
Secondly, Encourage the pastors. Pray for them. Celebrate them. See them for who they are: passionate men of God who are guiding their sheep the best way they know how. It is easy to judge a pastor or church and call out what they are not doing well or what they need to be doing more of, but choose to call out the gold in them. Research their church. Look at the ways they are involved in prayer, ministry, acts of service, and outreach. Thank them for what they are doing. As said in Philippians 1:2-6, “we thank God for your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” Like Paul, he encouraged the Body of believers before he rebuked them or gave them instruction. We need to do the same with pastors, acknowledging who they are and whose they are before diving in with our own ideals. Pastors have generally been around a long time. They have history in this city. Offer honor and respect to that history then offer them what the Lord has laid on your heart.
Next, Inspire them. Share what the Lord has done in your life and the vision He has laid on your life. Long-standing pastors need your stories. Stories of life-change in prayer and evangelism keeps their fires burning, especially if these stories happen right around where they live. After you have shared a few stories of what God has done, invite pastors to a meeting with other pastors. Help them connect and get to know one another. Offer them a time and place to encounter God and activate their faith together, a place to pray, worship together, and give evangelism instructions, and then go out together. How powerful would it be for 30 pastors in a city to share the Gospel together? It’s not that hard. All they need is a leader. You are that leader. Don’t shy away from speaking up, rather “set an example for believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity” (1 Timonty 4:13). You can do it.
Lastly, Challenge them. Challenge them to take a risk in a way they haven’t. Challenge them to activate their churches in ways that are hard for them i.e. prayer, unity with other believers, evangelism, worship. Give them an outlet for this so they do not have to build another ministry/activity into their schedule. Partner with pastors and churches and watch as the Lord transforms your city as the Body of Christ becomes one.