Jesus came to reach everyone on every level. He wasn’t in a limo. He didn’t have a big mega church or a private jet. He just walked and talked with people and met them on their level. if they were hungry, He fed them. If they had a need, He prayed and healed them. He heard them because He was them and He was among them.
In outreach ministries, the goal is reaching out to others. The others might be the rejects, the outcasts of the groups, the bad ones in the bunch (or so they think), the introverts, or those who are loners and won’t walk into churches in the traditional manner. To be fishers of men, we need to fish deeper and cast bigger nets. Consider these tips to help you reach more people – and remember, it’s not always about filling seats on Sunday, it’s about ministering to hurting people and meeting them where they need it:
Sometimes churches make the mistake of opening their doors and leaving it to church members to bring people in. That’s fine, but it’s not always enough. You can actually cast a much wider net just by reaching out to local shelters and homeless facilities. You can also reach the elderly in nursing homes, or consider starting a ministry that goes to local hospitals or orphanages. People in need won’t always go into church because they don’t want to be lectured or told what they’re doing is wrong. They already know that. They also don’t want to be put on the spot. Instead of waiting for people to come in, walk through your communities. You’ll find the largest number of people in large shopping centers, near major bus stops and stores on Saturdays when everyone is out shopping.
“If you would just come to church.” That’s a sales pitch, which can sometimes sound desperate and it’s also scary to someone who is being asked to come out of their element to be surrounded by strangers who might judge them. Remember your first church visit? Didn’t they take you up to the front of the church and show you off? When you have an outreach ministry, you as an individual are the church. Not once did you see Jesus say, “If you’ll just come back with me…” What He did was he met people where they were and talked to them. He inspired them with stories (parables), and healed them in the middle of their mess. He went to them and met them on their level.
Outreach ministries can be at your kid’s basketball game, the Pee Wee football camp, the women’s makeover party. The surroundings aren’t as important as the message – and the message is: Share. Don’t sell, but share. Share a story, give a testimony. Offer a prayer.
One of the reasons that some women have been successful selling Mary Kaye or Avon has been that when they had make-up parties, the ladies would sometimes invite women to “model the makeup.” They didn’t say anything about selling or put any pressure on them and when they arrived, they were given a free gift and allowed to introduce themselves. This made the person feel good without an underlying and obvious sales approach.
With football players, you can show a sports movie or highlights from a big game, and pray for players and their various teams. Also ask if anyone has prayer requests because someone might have a sick relative. In your talks, focus on the need to stay unified on a team, to listen to and respect the coach, and to obey laws and rules because even in the NFL, the players are fined if they’re late to practice.
Mix it up…
Mix up your ministry. Have a bit of outreach and also open up the doors of the church. Have lectures and guest speakers. Have seminars, movie screenings, dances, cookouts and fun exchanges. Talk to women about how to deal with stress and heal from past hurts. Help women learn how to prioritize or multi-task effectively if they have more than one child. If they’re older, have a seminar on going back to work or new features on the computer. Having lectures at the local church is a great way to bring in guest speakers and attendees. The library does it everyday and your lectures and seminars don’t have to be preachy. Work on informative content that draws people in. Pray and let God help you plant the seeds that keep them there. Your lectures and seminars can get them in the door.
At meetings or lectures, ask if you can pray for the ladies to have a good work week and success on the job as you are wrapping up. If they don’t have jobs or you live in an area where there is high unemployment, have a workshop for updating resumes, learning new computer skills, having mock interviews and donated suits and clothing for interviews. Hold it once a month to give people a chance to bring their friends and give updates! You can even have people bring in laptops to help teach someone new skills on the computer.
Because Christians are sometimes frowned upon or treated like the perfume lady in the mall – “Run, she’s waving an atomizer at you,” you want to make sure that you give an approach that’s natural and not salesy, so this might mean breaking with the old mindset of what church is and welcoming people in new ways that can inspire them, and of course, lead them to Christ.
Enjoying our tips and pointers? Be sure to let us know. Have a few of your own? Share it in the comment section….
At the store, if you see a large family that looks like they’re in need, offer to buy some or all of their groceries. You can save the receipt and write it off with your taxes. Just be sure to share a story as you head out the door and then invite them to your church. Let them know you can pick them up if they need a ride. Invite them on a day when you’re having a church family event.
At a fast food restaurant, look for the families in need. You might see a large family sharing one drink and trying to split the food among the children. Ask if they have enough or if they could use extra. Maybe the kids want dessert and kids will always tell you if they’re hungry. You can also find hungry people at the bottle recycling section of grocery stores or the Coin Star area trying to get money together so they can buy groceries. Be the blessing that pays for their groceries or adds a little extra savings for them at the register.
Where are the shelters in your neighborhood? If you don’t know, find out if you can give out prayer cards or if you can speak to the various groups there. It might be a women’s shelter or one for homeless men. Go and share your testimony. Speak from the heart and encourage others to trust in God. Find out if you can speak once a month there or once a week. See if you can leave samples of Our Daily Bread so that people will have free devotionals. If you are having a seminar or lecture, make sure to let them know so they can attend.
One thing that can help, is to just listen. We want people to go to God with a repentant heart which is what He requires, but be sure to listen to a person’s story. We’re living in a time where people don’t want to be converted to Christianity because Christians are made to look bad, so you may find that whoever you’re witnessing to just wants to talk and will let you pray, but if they don’t want to say the Prayer of Salvation, or they’re non-denominational, that’s okay. Still give them the prayer. A lot of people are a mix of Catholic, Christian, Baptist and Judaism, along with other religions, so don’t make it a point to favor one over the other, but lead them to Christ and pray for God to make the way in their lives. You plant, God harvests…
If you’ve ever been in a department store and heard “You’re really missing out. You won’t find a better deal,” you know you just want to walk away because the person won’t stop drilling in their point and they sound salesy and desperate. Witnessing can be silent and just as effective. Give a prayer card and say a kind word or give a testimony and listen. If the person has a specific area where they need prayer, then pray with them and let them know you will keep them in prayer. Give your information like your church address and your phone number and email, and trust God to do the rest. You planted the seed, so have faith and let God harvest it!
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