The goal of every minister of the gospel should be to serve as the unofficial chaplain of their entire community. Because of this, studying one’s community is vital to be effective as a minister. Key pastors and apostolic leaders should have as a goal to systematically know their communities better than anyone else. Following are seven strategies to accomplish this:
1. Investigate the historical society of your community.
2. Ask for the five most important books on the area.
3. Find out the following about your community: ethnic demographics, history, religion, sociology, and patterns of arrest from the police department.
4. Visit every other pastor in the community one day a week for at least a year when you first start. Ask each pastor for the most important lesson they have learned as pastors in the community. Also, ask each pastor to walk you around the neighborhood. (In one year in Chicago, while a new senior pastor of a church, noted Christian urbanologist Ray Bakke visited 44 pastors.)
5. Visit all the social agencies that advocate for the powerless.
6. Visit every school and ask the principals what is happening in the community through their eyes.
7. Visit the fire department and the police department. Ask the police department to bring beat cops to your worship service so you can pray for them.