Once, on a surfing trip to Mexico, our car passed a Mexican citizen hopping the border fence, and running with all his heart towards the U.S. The border patrol nabbed him, but the incident left me thinking why he dared to cross.
This man saw a land of hope and opportunity in front of him. He wanted to hop the fence and run for that better life. As Christians—we offer the hope of that better life in Christ. If the man had not seen good things on the other side of the fence, he would not leave his homeland. If we do not show hope to unbelievers—how can we expect them to accept it?
Outreach is the ‘foot-in-the-door’ so to speak, for evangelism. It provides us with the reason people want to stop and listen. There are as many forms of outreach as there are people in the world, but only one message—that of Christ, crucified and resurrected.
Here are three basic ways the church can collectively reach out locally: communicating its presence and services, holding events, and offering programs. Prayerfully consider if your church is making the most of every opportunity.
The more people know a church exists, the more likely they will be to turn to it when struggles or big questions hit. Here are a few communication tools available to churches…
- Identity Pieces convey church identity via consistent wording and appearance (bulletins, brochures, business cards, contact cards, banners and church signs).
- Promotion Pieces bring the church message into the community (church Web site, postcards, door hangers, invitation cards, and yard signs or banners).
- Advertising reaches a broader audience with various media (newspaper, radio, yellow pages, televised or online ads, press releases and PSAs).
- Community Interaction connects churches with neighbors either in person or online (host a booth at a local festival, sponsor a float in a parade, start online conversations via Facebook and Twitter).
- Campaigns imply necessary action by a deadline, and can attract an audience that doesn’t want to miss out (special sermon series, class, or other content).
Events provide opportunities to show your community what your church is all about, point to the cross, and build relationships. Here are a few ways to focus church events…
- Seasonal Events can be planned during specific times of year or holidays (Easter, Christmas, 4th of July, Halloween, Back to School, etc.).
- Content-driven Events focus on special content (concert, speaker, entertainment, etc.).
- Benefits occur when proceeds benefit a local cause or organization partner (the local shelter, food bank, disaster relief, etc.).
- Targeted Events seek to attract a certain demographic, usually through a specific interest (Family Fun Day, Extreme Sports Show, Hunting Expo, etc.).
- Service Events provide a specific service (or services) to the community on a given day (Community Serve Day, Project Playground, Fire Station Spruce Up, Senior Yard Care Day, etc.).
Ministries and programs meet a felt-need in the community. Shared experiences have the ability to unite people and connect them over time. Here are common types…
- Life-Stage Programs unite people who share similar concerns based on their life-stage—their age, gender, and milestones (Men’s Ministry, Children’s Ministry, Premarital Counseling, etc.).
- Crisis Care Programs help people in crisis via support groups, mentoring, counseling, or visitation (DivorceCare, Celebrate Recovery, Hospital Visits, etc.).
- Service Programs provide tangible items or services (Transportation, Cleaning Crew, Food Bank, etc.).
- Special Interest Programs unite interested people to enjoy or learn a sport, art, hobby or interest (Golf, Sketching, Cooking, etc.).
- Specialized Care Programs assist people whose lives revolve around special circumstances (Special Needs Ministry, Orphan Care, Retirement Visitation, etc.).
In what unique ways do you see God moving your church and ministries to action?