Why outreach matters

June 10, 2009 — 6 Comments

outreach globeThroughout my time in ministry, I have often found myself burdened by the nature of the local church. Now that’s not a blanket condemnation of the church. There are, in fact, many things that most churches seem to do pretty well: prayer, fellowship, worship, Bible study.

These tasks of the church, however, are largely self-focused. We tend to design our church experiences for ourselves — rather than for those who are outside the church. It’s been said that the church is the only institution that exists for those who are not members, yet so many times we don’t seem to realize that.

I have always been an advocate for Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, and other ministries being largely outreach-oriented. I recently met someone who further underscores that belief. Her name is Vicki.

As a child, Vicki grew up in Missouri in what she describes as a pretty dysfunctional family. While past generations had been quite involved in church — even leadership positions, Vicki’s parents were not. Like so many American families, Vicki’s home had bibles here and there, but they only served to collect dust.

When Vicki was six, she walked down the street to a Lutheran church and jokes that she “didn’t understand a thing!”  Through the years, Vicki attended church from time to time with several neighbors. However, her spiritual experience did not begin in earnest until the Vanderpool family moved into the neighborhood. Vicki said, “They truly took me in and saw to it that I was in church and involved in all things that a child should be involved in to learn the ways of our Lord!”

Vicki credits the Vanderpool family with leading her to a life-changing relationship with Christ. And while her own adult life in some ways has mirrored that of her parents, who divorced when she was barely a teenager, Vicki knows that God loves her and gives her the strength she needs to face every challenge of life. Vicki admits that she is somewhat shy by nature and, as a result, frequently finds herself reciting Philippians 4:13 even when walking into a room full of new people.

And although her current occupation pretty much prevents her from attending regular church services, Vicki is intentional about maintaining a regular time of prayer and personal Bible study, a support group of Christian friends, and a steady diet of God’s Word presented through CD’s and television. Vicki is someone who is passionate about growing in her relationship with God, and she uses her life to encourage other people to find relationship with him as well. Through her work and her connections on social networking sites, Vicki is an unashamed follower of Christ.

Vicki takes to heart the old adage that she may be the only Jesus that some people ever see. And she wants to represent Him well.

I can’t help but wonder how many lives have been touched — all because a Christian family in her neighborhood took seriously their responsibility to the Great Commission. The Vanderpools understood that their own mission field was right in their neighborhood.

Vicki, more than most, understands full well the importance of outreach in the life of a congregation. She explains,

I truly believe we have to get OUTSIDE the walls of church! Why? Because we are called to be like Christ. And although He did teach and read in the temple, His main outreach was going where the people were!”

There’s no better time than now to begin evaluating all the church’s ministries through a lens of outreach. With so many American congregations experiencing decline, I believe we must get back to the basics and renew our commitment to not only nourish our own souls but also to go and reach and teach and disciple those who have yet to understand the message of Christ.

Statistics consistently show that if a person has not accepted Christ by the age of 19, then they likely never will. I can think of no greater motivation to ‘think outreach’ in all we do as a church.

cotton field. . . open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” (John 4:35b)

 

 

 

 

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6 responses to Why outreach matters

  1. 

    We happen to be close personal friends of Vicki, and we can both tell you that not only did she ultimately become “Churched” by her persoanl relationship with Jesus Christ, but that she is a light, a beacon of hope, in a dark world. Vicki EXUDES love, she is everything that Christ would want His daughter to be, and now she is busy everyday just a-spreading (Little country attempt there) His love all over the place. We are honored to know and to love her, and your article is a blessing to us all, especially those that know her as we do!

    Thank you Garrick for our simple and loving portrait of a loving and caring soul!

    In His Love,

    Steve & Trachena Muchnick

  2. 

    Thank you for your kind words. It’s always good to connect with other believers.

  3. 

    Awesome article! Vicki is a true woman after God’s own heart. We love her dearly and she has markings on our hearts forever! We love you Vicki 🙂 Steve & Trachena

  4. 

    In my view, “Outreach”, is the work of the Church. I have made it the main focus in each area of my Ministry. To be attentive to the needs of those in need as well as to equip lay leaders to better extend their hand towards the hurting. That’s why we call it the “Hands Of God.” My column here in WordPress is a running commentary on Outreach Ministry.

    “The Work of His Hands” http://mattmilamii.highcallingblogs.com/

    I can also relate to the change in Vicki’s life as brought about be an act of outreach. Personally I experienced an outpouring of love which is responsible for my being a Minister today. We must not forget that our commission is to go into the world and not to wait for the world to come to us.

    Blessings,
    Matt.

  5. 

    Thank you Garrick for allowing me to share my story in order to get the importance of *Outreach* to the churches! I want everyone to remember that I am a life that was changed because of this kind of *reaching out*! The focus is to stay on THAT..I am but a result of that focus!
    God can change a soul but they FIRST must hear so they can receive that change!
    Look around you, in your state, in your town, then in your own neighborhood..SOMEONE is a Vicki!!

  6. 

    Dear Vicki,

    I thank you for your powerful testimony as well as your ability to remain joyfully dedicated to the message of this ministry. You are right… someone is a Vivki, and we all at one point were like you… or worst. God only knows where I would be if that stranger had not taken the time to stop and ask if I was O.K. His small show of kindness gave me a reason to go on living. It all starts with a heart for concern, a kind word, and the act of giving. I pray that your message and mine are not just heard but recieved and acted upon.

    By The Grace of God,
    Matt.

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