Why Hyperlocalization Is the New Normal in Pastoral Ministry

The future of ministry effectiveness is not going to be about having the best sermon but having the most localized message. (Unsplash)

Streaming church services online is not a new concept. Churches have been streaming their services through various online platforms for years.

Although this practice is not uncommon, many churches did not stream their services online nor did they see a need before COVID-19. As churches were forced online, many pastors were left asking, "What's next? Why would someone continue to stream my church's worship service when they now have online access to the most popular preachers and worship leaders in the world?"

The future of ministry effectiveness is not going to be about having the best sermon but having the most localized message. The irreplaceable pastor of the future will be one who makes deep connections and relationships with his congregation in ways an online pastor cannot. Here are three areas of focus for local pastors as they seek to reach their community with the gospel and develop a culture of discipleship within their congregations.

1. The local pastor will speak through their own life more than ever before. It is essential that future-focused pastors know themselves and are connected to what God is currently doing in their life. Using both their own experiences and God's Word, local pastors will be able to engage with their congregation by being authentic and open about what God is doing in their life. Even pastors who are not the best preachers are able to captivate an audience by using their own story to better share the gospel of Christ. Invite your congregation on your journey with you and use what God is doing in your life to speak to the members of your church. Remember God called you to this congregation because He knew that they needed you and your unique gifts to lead these specific sheep.

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2. The local pastor will get to know their congregation. It has been said, "A good pastor smells like sheep." The next normal pastor will go out and get to know their sheep. When you build genuine and deep relationships with your congregation, they will be loyal to you. People do not go to church just because they feel like they have to; people go to church to have fellowship with other believers and build genuine relationships. Focus on the relationships you are building at your church and get to know your congregation.

At the end of the day, your church members want to be known. Use what you know about your members and who they are when creating your sermon. The sermon needs to be relationally focused and relevant to your congregants. If your congregation is able to relate to your sermon, they are not only more likely to listen but to apply the truth you are sharing with their lives.

3. The local pastor will focus on their community. A church serves more than just its members—it serves the whole community. Local churches have the unique ability to serve those in the community around them in a way no one else can. Take the time to get to know your community and find ways to serve your community according to its specific needs. Ask yourself how you could approach your message next week in a way that would explain what is and has been happening in your zip code this week. Use your specific text from God's Word and speak to your community.

There is so much uncertainty in every aspect of life. It can be hard to tell what life is going to be like in the coming weeks, months and years, but one thing we can be certain of is that the next normal pastor is the local pastor. People are seeking real, genuine relationships as never before. Let your church be a place they can come to fill that need.

One thing our current state of uncertainty has made clear is the value of preparedness. As you begin to think about what is next for you as a leader, and for the future of your church, I encourage you to think long-term and check out the expanded and updated version of Next: Pastoral Succession that Works. With so many unforeseen departures in leadership, this is no longer a retirement conversation, but a readiness conversation.

William Vanderbloemen is the CEO and founder of Vanderbloemen, which serves teams with a greater purpose by aligning their people solutions for growth: hiring, compensation, succession and culture. Through its retained executive search and consulting services, Vanderbloemen serves churches, schools, nonprofits, family offices and Christian businesses in all parts of the United States and internationally. Follow him on Twitter @wvanderbloemen.

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