No matter how long a church searches, they will never find an admonition from God to spend the bulk of their time and effort planning and preparing for those outside the church to come and be their guests at church gatherings. Yet, that has never stopped churches from doing exactly that. It is, in fact, just the opposite of what is found in Scripture. Mark 16:15 says, ““Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.”
It is all about outreach, and there are various methods and structure to it. Each individual church bears the responsibility of deciding what is best for their church body. Some will argue inside their own ranks as to which is the best outreach method and struggle to do well at much of anything. Others will tend to gravitate towards a particular type of outreach and end up making all of their efforts and members conform to that type.
So, is there a “best” way to structure church outreach? Is there a list of “right” and “wrong” ways to do outreach? The short answer is, “No.” There are no right, wrong, or best ways for a church to do outreach. While the heart attitudes behind the specific type of outreach can be wrong, it doesn’t make the outreach itself wrong. As a matter of fact, the arguing and bickering over this is a cancer inside many churches that often keeps churches from doing anything in the area of outreach.
Truth is, anyone can look online and quickly find “101 Outreach Ideas” and a myriad of other links to help you find new outreach ideas. However, true outreach has very little to do with the specific activity, event, or method. It could be a carnival, skate party, movie night, computer class, marriage seminar, car wash, etc. The important thing is the purpose behind the method. The purpose will narrow down the options and help point the church in a more specific direction. But, it all begins with purpose.
Here are three types of outreach events and their purposes. After identifying one of these three, a church’s focus can be narrowed to the specific events that will best facilitate their purpose.
1. Evangelical Outreach- The purpose of all evangelical outreach activities or events is to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ and give people the opportunity to respond by trusting Jesus as their Savior. While there are other aspects involved during the event, it will all hinge on or be built around the time of sharing the Gospel.
2. Community Event- This type has, as its number one goal, the purpose of getting the church out into the communities close to the church campus, to interact with and show God’s love to those outside the church. There will be no formal proclaiming of the Gospel from the standpoint of church leadership or a main stage speaker. Instead, God’s love will be shown and modeled in tangible ways as the church rubs shoulders with and meets others.
3. Service Project- Clearly this is putting some real hands and feet to showing God’s love to others. Most communities have those who have genuine needs who are waiting for someone to lend a helping hand. At other times there are big needs that come from things like storms and various tragedies that call for volunteers to give of themselves in new ways. When someone is in need, and they get a “no strings attached” helping hand, there is often great impact in their lives. It really helps them see the unadulterated love of God at work in their own lives.
All three types of outreach events are important and a church must be balanced in their approach in order to excel at outreach. There are bridges to be built and every opportunity to place another brick on those bridges has to be taken very intentionally and with clear purpose. The old adage, “nobody will care how much you know until they know how much you care” is fitting. Churches have to get outside the walls of their church buildings and share God’s love.