What Is Outreach?

An event, something you do, or a lifestyle?


by Aaron Strawn/ August 18, 2015

Hang on a second, I’m going to close my door and put my phone on DND… (looks out the window and closes the blinds). Ok, it’s safe in here now. Let’s talk about… outreach events. Now, I’ve been doing kids ministry for almost 10 years and have done the Fall Fests, Christmas musicals, Crusades, Easter egg hunts done it all. And there’s nothing wrong with those. But I found myself looking for new faces on Sunday morning… and… nothing.

What happened? Where are all the thousands of people that were jumping on my $200-an-hour head-cracking bounce house? Where’s the line of people that waited 40 minutes for a snow cone? They weren't there. Hmmm. So, should we abandon the idea altogether? I don’t think that’s the answer. So what then?

Well, here’s an idea that might make you say, ok cool, I’ll try that. One thing Ive noticed about Jesus and his three years of ministry is that He never stayed in the same place very long. He didn't camp. He moved about. He went to the people, and they flocked to him. I volunteered for 2 years at a local event called AppleFest. I got into the event because someone saw me do a magic act at our local library and gave them my name. AppleFest asked if I would perform, and I said sure!

I did two sets for two days. At one performance there were around 300 people. I even made the late night news! After my last performance, a family came up to me… Hang on, let me back up. For about a year I volunteered at our YMCA after-school program. There I met a kid named Thomas. I would play basketball with him, throw a football around, or play UNO (which I’m awesome at, btw). Ok, back to AppleFest. Up comes Thomas and his mom. She said, “Thomas was so excited to see you. He misses hanging out.” (The YMCA shut down the after-school program.) I then invited them to come to our Wednesday night kids service. He showed up and never missed a week.

Here’s what I learnedwhen I stepped outside the walls and plugged into my community, I realized… this is outreach. No bounce houses, no snow cones. Just me being there, loving on the kids of my city. Guess whatwe started to growI mean explode. So here’s my pointoutreach doesn't always have to be big, giant, expensive events. Sometimes, it’s doing what Jesus did. Going out there. Loving people.

Are you “out there” in your community? Do you provide avenues for your team to consistently be in the community? If not, what can you do to change that?