When you think of outreach, what comes to your mind? It can happen through many forms such as phone calls, emails, Saturday Family Fun Day in the Church parking lot, canned food drives, etc. Essentially, outreach is anything your church does in order to connect itself with the community because you have a heart for the lost. We plan outreach activities because we want to evangelize the powerful message of transformation through Jesus Christ. So there’s a powerful link between outreach and evangelism. Our genuine love for the community around us (our immediate mission field) produces an action (outreach) with a message (evangelism).
What does outreach reflecting evangelism look like and how can we do it well? The Ministry Guide, Gearing Up For Fall Outreach, points us to the following:
- The pastor’s involvement, excitement and promotion should be a model for the church. This is critical for the church body to see in word and deed from leadership – it magnifies the outreach when it’s done shoulder to shoulder.
- Direct the outreach to a specific group of people. We can’t possibly reach everyone in our zip code at once, but we will get there in time! Think about the outreach in segments to best reach the people where they are – this is evangelism – meet them where they are.
- Start with those closest in your church community and then go from there. That’s a plan that can be tracked on a map – think of your church as the bullseye on the map and create rings around it. Over time, you’ll see how the rings are broadened to bring people into your church who are establishing a relationship with the Lord and each other.
- Who your volunteers are in each specific outreach will have a lasting impact on the outcome. If a volunteer has no child experience, please don’t send them to the actual distribution of the diaper drive, for example, where a parent may have questions. This person may be best placed to serve at the diaper donation drop off to thank people for their generosity. See the difference? Each one of us has skills that need to be considered to complement the outreach experience. It all matters.
- Example: If you’re hosting a back to school backpack outreach, give the children your very best. Make sure your budget considers the designs of the bags and fill them with top of the line supplies to give the students something they’re super proud of. Remember, this practical gift is an extension of your church and, more importantly, a glimpse of God’s unconditional love for them.
If you grew up in a church with Sunday School as I did, these lyrics are not new to you, “And they will know we are Christians by our love, by our love, yes they will know we are Christians by our love.” Who are the “they?” They are the lost, they are our next door neighbors, they are our mission field, and they are precious to the Lord. While I may not think of or hum this song daily, I did recall it as I was stirred by the fact that it all begins with our hearts for others to know Christ that compels us to evangelize. Allow me to stretch this idea a bit further and say, evangelism is the collective inward message of the Body of Christ that fuels our church outreach. Jesus commands us to “teach all nations.” That means every tongue and tribe. That means all people groups. All nationalities. All races. We should teach specifically about the death and resurrection of Jesus so that people would come to know Him and make Him known!
I’ll be writing more in the days to come about church outreach and how it also includes obedience and discipleship. Outreach is an area that we are always wanting to improve upon and do well, and I hope that upon reading this you are refreshed to continue fulfilling this great commandment.
Pattie plays an integral role in key areas across ACS Technologies, including project management, business partnerships, operational excellence, and more. Pattie joined ACS Technologies in 1995. Before that, she worked in advertising and brand management leadership with Procter & Gamble. She also worked with Koinonia Partners, the birthplace of Habitat for Humanity. Pattie attends St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church in Florence, SC.
This blog references the new helpful Ministry Resource on proven best practices in Gearing Up For Fall Outreach which is part 3 of this 4 part Gearing Up For Fall Ministry Guide series. It is available now to you for free as an easy download to read and share. And, to make it even easier and so you don’t miss any of our Church Growth Resources, you can also receive our ministry blog posts straight to your inbox!