All of us want to know if our efforts make any difference. Most of us fear our impact is not what it should be.

Over the past few months, I've been asking pastors what comes to mind when they hear the phrase community impact. The responses ranged widely.

An inner-city pastor started talking about the pressure he feels: "It's so dark out there. What happened to the light? Everybody is screaming for help. What will happen when the phone rings-will it be another overdose? Another rape? Another divorce? More child abuse and neglect? Another eviction? Whose lights are shut off now? The weight of the world is pressing down upon me. I don't feel like I'm getting anywhere."

A suburban pastor shared a similar discouragement but from a different cause: "I don't seem to be having any impact at all-either on the community or the church. I get the feeling that whether I'm here or not doesn't make any difference. What happens just happens." He was ready to leave his church.

The pastor of a church in a small ...

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