by John Hailes/ October 27, 2015
Every year in America the Church spends millions of dollars on outreach, and yet after many of these outreaches we are left with a puzzled confusion trying to figure out their long-term fruit.
Lots of good work is done during the outreaches, but we must ask ourselves if our outreaches are truly helping us achieve the mandate that God has purposed us for. Are our outreaches effective in connecting people to Christ?
Many times Jesus is added in the form of a quick altar call or in the form of a gospel tract that is hidden in the bottom of people’s Easter baskets or Trunk-or-Treat bags. But in many ways this seems like an unsubstantial, half-hearted, token gesture. We must ask ourselves how we can keep Jesus at the center of our outreaches. Only then is He accessible to meet all people, wherever they are in their journey of faith.
The more opportunities we make for people to connect to Christ and learn about Him, the more effective we will be in fulfilling our calling.
Here are a number of simple ways we can incorporate Christ during and after our outreaches:
- Have a Prayer Station
One of the easiest ways we can minister to people and allow them to experience God is through prayer. Offer a place where people can bring their burdens, worries, and struggles and receive prayer. Who knows what words the Holy Spirit will speak that could encourage and spark faith in people’s hearts?
- Offer an Optional Gospel Presentation
Be creative and offer a fun but basic gospel presentation that the whole family can enjoy! Perform a play with a deeper meaning. A circus act with a fun twist. Or a magic/illusion act with a challenge. Don’t trick people into it or force people to watch it. Be upfront about what it is, but make it exciting and something every child couldn’t resist!
- Have an “About our Church” Station
Every church wants people from their outreaches to attend their church…so why don’t you do something crazy and offer a place for people to learn more? People can connect to Christ through learning more about what your Church is all about.
- Host a Follow-up Connection Event
Offer a more intimate follow-up event where people can have more opportunity to have fun but also meet church members and create friendships.
- Start a Kids Club/After-School Club
Take a long-term interest in the community. Don’t just go out into the community once to do the outreach and then expect people to come to the church from then on! Have a group or weekly club for kids to continue to learn about God.
- Offer a “Beginners” Discipleship Course
We don’t just want people to say a sinner’s prayer, we want the to become disciples of Christ. A short gospel presentation and an altar call don’t always give people enough understanding to allow them to commit to Christ. The Alpha course and others help people discuss in a relaxed environment what they believe about God and what the Church believes.When we provide multiple connections to Christ through our outreaches, we make it possible for many different kinds of people, from many different places on the faith journey, to encounter Jesus. When all is said and done, that is what really matters.