The Discipline of Outreach

by David Boyd/ July 17, 2018

Lois came to church on our church bus. She was a single mother with several children. She had been hurt greatly in her short life, but through Jesus she found faith, love, hope, and joy. She returned those gifts she had found in Jesus by getting involved in ministry. Soon she was loving the children of others. In doing so, she began to make lifelong friends. She was blessing the children, and in doing so, God was blessing her back.

Today, years and years later, Lois continues in ministry. Her children are grown and love Jesus. Her reliance upon governmental subsidy has been replaced with a great job in management due to the skills God had birthed in her. She is a result of a church that reached out to children and families and the result of “giving back to Jesus” with her time, talent, and resource. This is the result of the discipline of outreach. Unfortunately, many churches fall quite short when it comes to outreach.

In our changing post-modern culture, contemporary church growth scholars write a great deal about the difficulty of modern day outreach. Not so with children. Children’s outreach stays very viable. Lois was reached through her children; today she is a vibrant Christian. Thom Rainer in his book Breakout Churches states, “It now takes 85 church members one year to win one person to Christ.”  For the most part, he is speaking about reaching adults. Reaching kids is a wide-open harvest field, and reaching parents through the children is extremely viable as well.

A testimony that recently came in is another great example. A six-year-old girl was picked up by a neighbor and brought to church. As time passed, a relationship was built with the girl’s mother, who eventually got saved. Then at a Christmas cantata the father came to see the child perform. At the cantata the father gave his heart to Christ. Once again, children’s outreach is the key to outreach opportunities in your community.

Children's ministry is a lot of work! There is a never-ending supply of children who need care within your church, as well as lost children and families who need to be reached outside of your church. God expects us to labor and endure. He promises that every act of service we give in His name prompted by our faith, our love, and our hope in Him, will receive its reward.

Opportunities for reaching children are very available. Rick Rusaw and Eric Swanson, experts on outreach and authors of The Externally Focused Church, include many types of outreach possibilities. Most of these include ministering to children through acts of service. They state, “One of the most effective ways to reach people with the message of Jesus Christ today is through real and relevant acts of service.” Ministering to the needs of children takes on many forms, from feeding them, clothing them, being a big brother or big sister, and more.

One opportunity churches are discovering to minister to children is through outreach acts at the schools. Rusaw and Swanson, in this same book, The Externally Focused Church, tell the story of a teacher who was surprised at the love poured out upon the students at the local grade school. The church had done extensive renovations, had been involved in student tutoring, assisted the teachers, and much more. The teacher responded, “If this is Christianity, then I’m interested.”  It was Christ’s love put to action on behalf of children that showed this teacher Christianity in the flesh. It makes a difference.

In Luke 10 is the well-known story of the Good Samaritan. The problem with well-known stories is that we lose the depth of their meaning. Two other supposedly godly individuals saw the need, but neither was willing to share the time, the compassion, or the ministry to make a difference. The Samaritan did. He made a difference. And his story was told by none other than Jesus. Jesus commended what this man had done.

You see, Jesus remembers. He sees you and me, and He remembers when we allow Him to direct our eyes and we act upon His leading—being sometimes inconvenienced, but making a difference for the kingdom of God. He cares about lost children. Go out today and ask God, “How can I reach lost kids?” He will direct you to go—make a difference.