There are dozens of ways churches can reach out to their neighborhood or community. The challenge is discerning which opportunities to embrace and which ones to let go. I use three questions to discern whether to say “yes” to an outreach event or activity.
Will this outreach appeal to people both outside and inside the church?
Churches sometimes start outreach to meet a glaring community need, only to discover none of their members are interested in supporting the ministry. The insular nature of congregations also leads churches to start outreach which interests members but not the community.
Better to find connecting points between the community and congregation. Find a community need that is a cause already supported by members.
Will this outreach ultimately allow members to share Jesus with people outside the church?
It doesn’t matter whether Jesus is shared formally or informally through the outreach. What matters is members having the opportunity to share Jesus.
Do not be too quick in declining outreach opportunities that prohibit sharing Jesus at the event. It may still be possible to talk about Jesus informally before or after events. This is especially true if it allows the congregation to regularly serve with the same volunteers from the community.
Will this outreach help members form relationships with people outside the church?
The past few generations, churches defined outreach as sending members to volunteer at the local food bank once or twice a year. Or hold a yearly fundraiser for a local charity.
Today, churches need outreach that allows members to form authentic relationships with people outside the church. It doesn’t matter whether its relationships with those being served or fellow volunteers. The relationships create the opportunities to share the faith and invite people to know Christ in your congregation.
It is likely your church has outreach ministries that would not pass this three-question test. I’ll have a follow up post this summer on how the purpose of churches influences outreach. Until then, understand the three questions are weighted heavily toward churches making disciples of Jesus.
What are your thoughts on how to discern whether to embrace outreach opportunities? Leave your insights in the comments or shoot me an email.