When a church sets out to love the community with tangible acts of practical kindness, the options of how to do that are endless. Too many times however, there is just one leader brainstorming all of the ideas on how to reach out to others in practical ways. This narrows down the outreach ideas to what this one leader is passionate about. If they are passionate about a certain place or people, the church will spend most of their time and resources reaching out to that certain focus group. Furthermore, the church may then put a label on their name like “cowboy church”, “addiction recovery church”, “skater church”, “specific race church”, etc. God’s kingdom and command to reach others is so much bigger than just one focus group or place. God’s invitation is to all and as a church we must be committed to reach out to a healthy variety of people and places. This is impossible if you are drawing all of your outreach ideas from one leader’s passion.
One of my first goals when I was called to be an outreach pastor was to sit down with multiple people that had various passions and brainstorm how we can reach the people and the places they were passionate about. I quickly found out that many of them had amazing ideas on how to reach out in practical ways. With those who were passionate about gamers, we brainstormed red bull giveaways at mid night releases. With those who were passionate about High School Football, We came up with glow stick giveaways. With those who loved animals, we came with serving at our local animal shelter by giving dogs baths, walks, and helping them get adopted. With those who had lived in apartments, we came up with free trash takeouts. The list goes on and on.
One of my favorite examples of this is how our church has loved on and reached out to our local nursing homes. When my Grandma was in a nursing home due to Alzheimers, my parents noticed that many of the other patient’s families never came and visited. Specifically they noticed that their birthday’s would come and go, and there wasn’t anyone there celebrating with them other than the staff from time to time. So my parents came to me with an idea to throw a big birthday party for everyone in the memory care unit of the nursing home. So we did. We had cake, music, free Polaroid picture taking, brought magazines to read, it was an absolute blast!
Just this past weekend we took free blankets to different nursing homes in our community to show God’s love in a practical way. This idea again did not come from me, but from a woman who is passionate about reaching out to nursing homes who simply noticed this need.
It has been very humbling to tap into other’s ideas and see how God uses different people with different passions to reach a community. I love hearing the stories of various people that have come to be apart of our church family from all of our diverse outreaches. Ultimately the bible tells us that God draws people to Jesus, but we have found that God has given us, as a Church, various passions so that He may use them to reach out to and draw the World to Jesus. As leaders, we must tap into this truth, and not try to come up with all of the ideas on how to reach people by ourselves. God has placed certain people in our churches for a reason, lets listen to them.