Why Churches Should Rebrand “Campus Pastors” to “Community Pastors”

Rebranding to “community pastor” is clear and inclusive—free from the confines of a building or physical location.
The Apollos Project

Many churches use the title “campus pastor” to refer to the leaders of a physical location. But this approach is changing.

“Their job isn’t to take care of a building,” says Rob Seddon, director of teaching at Crossroads Church, where they have changed the title from “campus pastor” to “community pastor.”

In the Bible, the “church” refers to the people who follow Jesus. So it would follow that pastors oversee a group of people, regardless of where they meet.

Including “campus” in the job title implies a pastor’s work is confined to the walls of a building. But today, as in Jesus’ time, the church is so much more than that.

Church is everywhere. Rebranding to “community pastor” accommodates this reality.  

“Their jobs are to pastor their community,” says Rob Seddon. “That will always have a local component. But the definition of community has changed.”

A church community now includes people who watch worship services online or engage with your church app. Whether someone sits on their couch or in a sanctuary, they are part of your community.

Rebranding to “community pastor” is clear and inclusive—free from the confines of a building or physical location. And it’s relevant to anyone, anywhere.

Great church leaders connect with the local community, wherever they are.

Even if your church has one location for gathering people, the distinction between “campus” and “community” positions your church for the future.

Great church leaders will connect with people in-person and online. They will continue to reconsider how relationships are formed, as digital platforms evolve. And they will look for ways to build online connections and reach people who might not have access to (or interest in) a church building.

People want to engage with church in many ways. Adapting to the changing expectations of church, one where online and in-person experiences are integrated, can have a lasting impact.

Three ways to engage with your community online.

  1. Give them ways to connect in your church app. Use your church app to help attendees connect with others, whether that’s through sharing their prayer requests, journaling about what they’re thankful for, or reading other people’s thoughts on a passage of scripture.  
  2. Make your church’s online front door more appealing. People have the attention span of a goldfish, so you need to use clear, simple language, and develop visually appealing content. You’re up against TikTok and Netflix, so think about simple, focused messages that can be communicated quickly.
  3. Create experiences that complement the in-person experience. Offer a pastor’s notes from Sunday service in your church app, enable people to connect with their small groups through the app, and provide suggestions for going deeper. We also need to think differently about how gatherings should happen, so more people can be included.

There’s a huge opportunity for digital discipleship here!  

Millennials are most likely to embrace hybrid online and in-person church. Over half of Gen Z teens feel motivated to learn more about Jesus. And 30% of U.S. adults actively search for religious information online, indicating a reliance on the internet as a resource for exploring their faith, according to the Pew Research Center.  

Changing a job title can eliminate a barrier for people exploring their faith. With the title of “community pastor,” leaders are positioned to meet people wherever they are, and give them ways to connect and explore their faith, in a way that feels comfortable and authentic to them.  

If you’re interested in growing your digital church community, please reach out to us! We’re happy to help.

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