Public figures, huh?
I used to be a part of a church which was situated outside the city limits. Access from main roads was restricted and it sat on a large piece of land with very rural surroundings.
It attracted people who wanted to “get away” from it all. And at the time, we as a leadership team did not work very hard at outreach or serving the community in any major ways.
What happened was that we became very exclusive – not on purpose, mind you. Anyone who would come visit we would welcome with open arms. But we unintentionally isolated ourselves from the city and did not have a lot of contact even with the Christian goings-on in the community.
We did not have any mal-intent, but the final product of our church was not a good thing.
It seems to me that church leaders must lead the way in becoming involved in the community. And to take it to the next level, church leaders must become public figures – well known in the city and having public lives of good works.
The Scriptural Reason to Become a Public Figure
Way back in Jeremiah, we saw the people of Jerusalem being exiled into Babylon due to their continued disobedience to God over many generations. And in chapter 29, God gives them some instructions. But he doesn’t tell them to fight for their freedom or try and force everyone to hold the same values as the Jews.
He tells them to seek the welfare of their city. They were to build houses, plant gardens, marry off their children, and seek the peace and prosperity of their cities. While these were specific instructions to a specific people, the principle remains that God is pleased when we take care of our cities.
Go forward to the New Testament. Paul commands the Thessalonians to work hard. To let the character of their work and their lifestyle win the respect of outsiders in their community. In Acts 2, we find that the Apostles (as well as the church) were gaining favor with the people for their public devotion to God and good works in the community.
Okay, so none of these are direct commands from Scripture to become a public figure. But the implication is that as leaders, we must not only take care of the people in our church, but also do what is good for the city.
And if we want to do that, then we must build a public reputation for ourselves. Which brings me to my next point…#God is pleased when we take care of our cities. Click To Tweet
The Practical Benefits of Becoming a Public Figure
I know a pastor out in Lancaster, PA. He has developed a presence in the community through his well-organized campaigns to help the needy. Now, the city requests his leadership at the annual prayer conference for the city cabinet, as well as becoming an advisor to the mayor himself.
His influence has given him opportunities to share the gospel in very public ways.
I know another pastor out in Portland, OR. He has developed massive initiatives in the city to help rebuild an old broken-down school, and execute municipal mentoring programs, as examples. Now, he and his church have been asked to participate on major decision-making boards throughout the city. He also works in an advisor-type role to both the mayor and the school board.
Again, it is his public influence which has brought him many new avenues to share the love of Christ.
It is through their connected-ness with those outside their church which have given them so many benefits. They are not only free to share their faith, but they are asked to do it. And it’s all because of their obtaining public figure-hood status through a lifetime of public good works.Build a lifetime of public #goodworks. #jesus Click To Tweet
How to Become a Public Figure
But they also looked outside their walls and made new opportunities to help other people. Remember, the goal is not just to be a great shepherd of your flock. It is to be a shepherd of your city, which isn’t about pride or celebrity status. It’s about being a servant-leader, like Christ himself.
You might be saying to yourself: “Yeah, but those guys had some major resources and were already well-connected.” My answer is, “Yeah, they did… But not at first. They started small like any one of us.”
The pastor in Lancaster started by bringing lunch to feed a police precinct one Saturday.
That’s something you could do, right?
Look for small ways to help your community. Organize and fund an art fair. Partner with your local court circuit to mentor parolees. Build a program at your church which houses and mentors former drug addicts. Go on regular leaf-raking outings for different neighborhoods.
During those initiatives, look for opportunities to meet city councilmen/women, entrepreneurs, and cultural leaders.
Soon enough, you’ll find yourself moving on to larger projects with more resources at your disposal and more opportunities to help in bigger ways.
Just don’t give up. Keep looking for ways to serve. You will become a public figure in time. Then use your influence to show how good God is. How amazing is Christ’s salvation. How miraculously he changes stone-hearted people into loving men and women.
Also published on Medium.