Para-church ministries have served vital and needed functions in many ways, from evangelism training, missions support, providing food, clothing and shelter to those in need and mobilizing Christians to be good citizens as well as many other areas of need. Arguably, however, all of those ministries described are responsibilities of the church in general and each local church in particular. A nationally known Pastor and parachurch ministry leader said at a luncheon in Houston, Texas, “Any parachurch organization that does not have as its central purpose to empower the local church is a fraud.” As both a pastor and leader of such an organization he feels strongly that God’s ordained institution to spread the Gospel and disciple the believers is the local church.
How does that overlay into citizenship? If it is indeed a responsibility of each church equip its members for effective Christian service, it follows that a necessary element of that equipping must be godly citizenship. As the spiritual head of each congregation, we believe that the Pastor must provide active, visible and consistent leadership in this area to validate it within the church, as well as to provide a prophetic voice of truth, integrity, justice and compassion to the world. We have Foreign Mission Committees, Youth Ministries, Outreach Ministries, Music Ministries, Discipleship Ministries, etc.; we are suggesting that each church that has not already simply add Citizenship Ministry, Community Impact Ministry or whatever name they are comfortable with as another pastor-approved and church supported facet of church affairs.
Very little happens without effective leadership, and we suggest starting with the leaders whom God has called – the Pastors, Shepherds, or as we refer to them, God’s Generals. The primary reason for forming a council is that without a team of Senior Pastors committed to working together toward specific and measurable objectives, very little if anything will change in the involvement level of the churches.
There are some essential steps to developing and sustaining an effective area Pastor Council that are very important. The greatest challenge is simply overcoming the “herding cats” syndrome that keeps pastors in our separate “mini-kingdoms. This is not a “cookie cutter”, one-size fits all approach, but rather some guidelines that will help avoid snares and maximize your possibility of building a strong team and have measurable impact.