How Pastors Can Leverage Their Public Trust

The Church Revitalization Podcast – Episode 163

Is that chart as surprising to you as it was to me? We’re definitely not imaging that the United States is less Christian-centric than it was 50 years ago. Or even 10 years ago. Many countries around the world have felt that same decline. Perhaps it’s in the wide reporting about the loss of Christian influence in the world that we’ve all just had it in our heads that people don’t want to talk to pastors about things. Maybe this little stat will give you hope.

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Note that the graph on the left above is “All U.S. Adults” as opposed to the one on the left which is “Practicing Christians.” 70% sounds pretty good! Armed with those odds, we’re suggesting today that you may be more behind in your messaging and engagement opportunities than you are in a reality that your point of view is unwanted.

With that, let’s look at three easy ways that you can be more available to build relationships outside the wall of the church. If you can leverage the trust the public may already have with you, then it will be worth your time.

1 – Passively Invite People to Share Their Challenges

First, get out of the office every week for a little while. A nearby coffee shop, or some other cool work/social hangout spot would be a good choice. Don’t expect to get your toughest work done there, so plan accordingly to make some progress on your to-do list, but be able to deal with happy interruptions. After all, that’s the goal.

Leave your earbuds and headphones at home since they automatically signal, “don’t talk to me.”

If you’re the more extroverted type, then you may be perfectly comfortable striking up a conversation with someone nearby. If not, have we got a deal for you!  Click below to grab one of our “I’m a pastor” stickers for the cover of your laptop. Hear us out on this one. If 70% of adults are comfortable chatting with you about tough questions, then why not invite them to do so? How awesome would it be for someone to take you up on an offer of prayer or conversation?

As if this isn’t incentive enough to grab one of these stickers, all proceeds go towards helping us take our resources and training around the world for international pastors for free. Help us help them.

2 – Create Content & Market Online

This one is more of a team effort, but we have two great resources linked below for you.

We all know that social media is where people are, so you should be there too. We’re not just suggesting that your church be visible online, though it should. There is an opportunity for you as the pastor to also be visible for similar reasons and opportunities as was mentioned in point one above.

By utilizing advertising options with engaging content, you may be able to get similar results as you would in-person in a coffee shop, but in an online context.

Have your social media person or team check out the resources available from Church Marketing University and Christian Vision below:

Church Marketing University:

Christian Vision:

3 – Join a Civic Organization or Local Non-Profit Board

This may seem old-fashioned, but that might also make it fresh and new. I can attest to having developed relationships with pastors because they were engaged in civic groups, so I know first-hand that this works.

In addition to doing good works in your city, serving on a board or as part of a good organization will help you develop relationships outside of your church membership, and give you the opportunity to be seen as a real person living in the real world.  Some opportunities you may find in your city are:

  • Rotary Club
  • Lions Club
  • Chamber of Commerce
  • City Economic Development Board
  • Library Board
  • Parks Board

Maybe the percentage of people willing to talk to a pastor 50 years ago was 90%. I don’t know. Regardless, take advantage of what trust and influence you may have in society now. Put yourself out there and see what happens. Don’t expect dozens of conversations each week, but stick to it, and maybe you’ll meet that one person in Heaven someday who says, “thanks for being there that day.”

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A.J. Mathieu is the President of the Malphurs Group. He is passionate about helping churches thrive and travels internationally to teach and train pastors to lead healthy disciple-making churches. A.J. lives in the Ft. Worth, Texas area, enjoys the outdoors, and loves spending time with his wife and two sons. Click here to email A.J.

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