Outreach is the mission and identity of the Church. Jesus came “to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10, KJV, Tyndale 1987). Likewise, as Followers of Christ, we have been given the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18). This is the ministry of restoration to favor. Through Jesus’ sacrifice, the penalty of man’s sin was paid by a sinless man and this started a redemption process (Romans 5:19). The Church must pick up where we are empowered as Jesus bids us go, teach, and baptize (Matthew 28:19). I want to briefly examine the importance of outreach in a church and then list specific examples of strategic restoration for our community.
When it comes to the church ministry, I have always heard it said that 20% of the people do 80% of the work. If you were to compare those numbers to a bus ministry or knocking on doors, the number is probably far less. Personal and corporate outreach is so important because there is someone out there that is facing the exact circumstance that you have already overcome! If we were to maximize participation and focus our efforts on the lost souls that are around us every day, we would have someone that could relate to everyone. Even if we were not able to initially relate to the struggles a person is dealing with, we can share our testimony and encourage them to see what Jesus can do in their lives. The next person that you lead to God may be the catalyst for a great revival within your local assembly!
One of the outreach methods that I employ is prayer. Another saying I like is, they don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. People are ever willing to complain or talk about things they are going through. Asking someone if you can pray for them and taking the time to make it personal, has lasting effects on an individual. This will open the door to deeper opportunities and plant an active seed in their mind that Jesus can nurture. I recently prayed with a man at work (who was healed from cancer, no one was excited about that but me…not even him!) and later that morning, another coworker came to me and thanked me for that prayer. I am still not sure what it meant to him, but he was moved to gratitude and that’s a start!
Another great outreach method is home Bible studies. I have been able to ramp up my teaching this year and I love it. When explaining the Bible in a way that becomes clear to the students, this becomes a very satisfying moment. When your students grasp and apply the new birth in their lives, it is exhilarating. When they teach others and the law of multiplicity is enacted, you will rejoice for the lives they touch. There is a bit of a commitment involved, especially for a twelve-week study, but we all have an extra couple of hours that we can spare each week. A side-effect of Bible studies is the lasting relationships that are formed.
Finally, show kindness or just try being friendly to those that visit your church. It is not easy to get around to meet everyone, especially in a large congregation, but if they have walked into your facility, they are seeking something, and getting them there was half of the battle! Jesus was a friend to outcasts and sinners. When someone comes to church, the least we can do is show concern and maybe they will come back for one more service; the service that changes their lives forever!