Pastors: Why Your Local Influence is More Essential than a National Platform

Pastor A has a top-ranked podcast, a book deal from a well-known publisher, and 150,000 Twitter followers. Pastor B is the treasurer at the local Rotary Club, is the assistant football coach at the middle school, and recently joined a bowling league. Both pastors have influence. Both are doing God’s will. Both enjoy their callings.

I will make a bold statement: Pastor B’s local influence is ultimately more vital to church health than Pastor A’s national platform. I certainly don’t want to diminish the power of a national platform. Many church leaders use such influence to the glory of God. I also don’t want to imply that those with a national platform neglect the potential of their local influence. Many church leaders manage both local influence and a national platform. However, I do believe it is more important to consider what you do for those directly in your path, those God has placed in geographic proximity to your ministry.

So, what is the difference between local influence and national prominence? Why would local influence be more essential to your church?

Fame and celebrity initiate change from a distance. National prominence inspires people to move in a certain direction. Indeed, many Christian movements started with a notable person leading the change at a national or global level. But the change is always created from a distance. You don’t know the leader; you’re simply moving with the crowd. Change at the national level is less likely to stick, less likely to have staying power. Many national movements ended up having the life cycle of a fad because they lacked local influence. Change at the local—grassroots—level is more likely to stick because of personal engagement with the leader. The church needs an army of local pastors. The church does not need an army of national platform leaders.

It’s noisier at the national level. More people are competing for the same space and attention. While competition can happen at the local level as well, the national level takes a lot of energy to garner a diminishing return of attention.

Most people care more about their backyards. Every local church has a global gospel mandate. Additionally, a church that loses her heart for God’s global mission will lose her heart for the local mission. But here’s reality: People pay more attention to their own backyards. National prominence can create big movements. But local influence is more acute and nuanced. A national leader will never understand the complexities of your neighborhood. But you do, which means you’re the best person to reach your neighbors.

Discipleship must be local. Can someone with a national platform help you become a better disciple? Sure. Can you make a disciple completely detached from the local church? No. Local pastors with local influence are needed more than prominent thought leaders, and these pastors are more essential to the health of local churches.

So, here’s what all this means: You should work harder and longer on your local influence than your national platform. Pour less energy into your personal brand and more energy into understanding the dynamics of relationships within your church. Your church is more important than your platform. The bride of Christ will make her way to heaven. Your platform won’t last beyond your obituary. 

Posted on June 16, 2021

As President of Church Answers, Sam Rainer wears many hats. From podcast co-host to full-time Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Church, Sam’s heart for ministry and revitalization are evident in all he does.
More from Sam

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  • I have consulted with Pastors of large churches for over two decades, and one of the flawed assumptions some pastors have is that instead of thinking “what’s best for my church is best for me,” some pastors choose to believe “what’s best for me is best for my church.”

    That type of thinking has been the downfall of churches that were once thriving communities and later became “studio audiences” with little impact in their own communities, or worse, are no longer around.

  • Good stuff, and thanks for the reminder!

  • The people with a national platform can make it really hard on those with a local platform. Sometimes that widely known person makes a statement that causes local clergy to cringe or caught everyone off guard. The wisest people with a national platform speak from the heart from a script, but consider their words and have people review what they are going to say in advance if it could be misconstrued. I am thinking about Deans, Bishops, and Archbishops.

  • Gale Dingwell says on

    Thank you for your insight and observation. As a pastor in the northeast I am frequently forced to answer the mail for someone from a different a region and culture as they leverage their “national” platform to fire up their fan base. The opinions they express may be correct, even biblical, but taken out of the context of their local community become a stumbling block to seekers and new believers in my community. If I could, I would tell them, “Please, by all means pastor your church, but don’t be so loud that it becomes impossible to pastor mine.”

  • I agree. From the secular world the adage is “all politics is local.” That isn’t untrue. While it is helpful to have an overarching strategy, how that strategy plays out on the streets depends on where you are. An urban church is likely to face different issues than a suburban or rural church.

    The hard work of the gospel comes where my faith intersects the needs of my community. In my opinion, if my church is not making a meaningful contribution to the community right outside my door I need to answer the self-reflective question “what distinguishes me from a club?” Christianity is a relational endeavor and relationships are developed by proximity.

    As the Presiding Bishop in the Episcopal Church, Michael Curry, says in his vision – we’re a Jesus movement and if the movement isn’t about love then it’s not about Jesus. Our challenge is to translate that principle into reality for the person who may never meet Michael Curry. His reach is helpful for creating a message of hope and love, our church’s responsibility is to live that message every day.