Robert Lewis is Pastor-at-Large for Fellowship Bible Church in Little Rock, Arkansas, where he served as Directional Leader for over 20 years. He also serves on the Board of Directors for the Leaders Network and is on the Board of Fellowship Associates, a church consulting and leadership training organization.

He has authored a number of publications including” Raising a Modern-Day Knight” (Focus on the Family), the “Raising a Modern-Day Knight Video Training Serie” with Dennis Rainey (Sonlight Productions), “Rocking the Roles: Building a Win-Win Marriage” (NavPress), “Real Family Values” (Multnomah Press) and “The Church of Irresistible Influence” (Zondervan). Robert’s most recent book is “Culture Shift: Transforming Your Church From the Inside Out” published by Jossey-Bass. He is also a contributing author to “Building Strong Families”, edited by Dennis Rainey and Faith Factor in “Fatherhood”, edited by Don Eberly. His most recent publication is the “Men’s Fraternity Bible”. Married since 1971, Robert and Sherard Lewis reside in Little Rock and have four children.

Robert opens with a story from a famous bridge builder who bridged the Niagera gorge. The terrifying chasm that he had to cross is like that pastors today have to cross, mistakes can be costly. We face today the voice that says you’re no longer wanted in the community. Here’s the question churches need to ask: Do you think we’re having any impact out there? Pastors may feel close their people, as church members may feel with each other, but do they feel close to the city [or their immediate community]?

In the gospel Jesus pressed his people to think outward. The word inward is a heresy in the gospels. You are to be invading the city was the tone of the ministerial outlook for them. Jesus most challenging words were “if you only love those who love you what good is that.”

The best way to learn how to connect with your community is to stop doing what your doing and go ask those who are leaders in it how you can help them. After this then create a survey for your church community to get a sense of them and add to this a survey for your area. A few things will appear as those that you should do after this. You’ll know what you’re going to do and why your going to do it. And that makes a big difference.

Put in a lot of time discovering where your church is going to serve, and then start with a  big win that many in your church can do. A big win is an event that gets everyone’s attention. When you have a big event everyone is encouraged, one example would be what Lewis’s church has done with “Share Fest”.

To your yearly big wins add ongoing community partnerships, some of these will happen because your church got involved in a group in a project and the service momentum kept going. These ongoing relationships keep us focused on ‘our Jerusalem’s’. With this we need to add another step, at some point we need to give people in our churches permission to dream and create their own ministries and support them in that. This may mean you have to change your ministerial mindset and with that some of your church structure. Robert says that they had to recognize that his church was actually holding back people in his body. People may be waiting to be set free.

One example for Robert of this was a group from his church who formed a missional group called “Excell” that now has a half a million dollar budget that they use to support mentors in public schools. Another example was the “Arkansaw Arts Festival” that was spearheaded by a person in their church and is an state-wide festival. Robert says that because of these amazing testimonies they have created a new staff person to help more people fulfill spiritual dreams, this pastor is called a “Release Pastor”.

You should regularly hold up these heroes in your church so everyon can see and celebrate what God is doing with them.