Back when I went to college I took a lot of criminal justice classes. One of them was called Police in Society. A lot of stuff about past and present trends in police interaction with the public. One of the chapters focused upon the beat cop of the old days. Before there were good roads and cop cars loaded with radios, there were beat cops.
New York city began to go back to the idea of the beat cop. The advantages were many. The cop was no longer isolated from the public by a police car with a radio. While the car offered some safety it separated the officer from the people. People can be dangerous, but as New York found out, they can also be your best protection.
Walking the beat daily allowed the officer to serve the community in a proactive way, rather than always responding after the fact. Rather than just enforcing the law they were influencing an attitude of abiding within the law. They began to know the people in the local businesses, the parks, and in the schools. Those people began to know them. Not just the shield or the door enblazened with the slogan, To Protect and Serve. They were humanized in the eyes of the community and more in touch with the reality of the lives of those who they served.
Our pastors have been isolated by their churches, just as effectively as cops become isolated by their cop cars. I am suggesting that we begin to promote the idea of beat pastoring. Reducing the amount of territory to the size a man can walk and interact in a day. The results might be surprising. Perhaps the best result might be that the pastor reconnects with the people that his heart was called to serve. Out of the cop car, out of the church, and into the lives. Not for a snippet or a token, but daily immersion into the suck that most of us live in day in and day out.
Beat pastors. I think that has a ring to it.