As a 21 year old college student I found my self in charge of the outreach efforts of my home church. I honestly did not know how God was going to grow this ministry I felt called to lead, but i was very enthusiastic that God was going to create an outward focused DNA within our church very quickly, and that we would have a great response right from the get go. I’ll never forget the first “Church-Wide” Outreach I planned. We called it the reverse trick or treat, and it was designed so that the day before Halloween we would have families lead kids door to door giving away candy instead of receiving it.
Again i didn’t know how God was going to build this ministry, but I had an idea that it would be through an outpour of devoted men leading their wives and kids to the outreaches. That is what i had always seen, and that is what I had always been taught, that to grow a ministry you must have devoted men. So there I was, with our staff at our first outreach, waiting for all of the big trucks with all of the men to show up with their families. None came! Who did show up was one single mom, named Hannah, with her kids.
As we were doing the outreach it was raining the whole time, we had to cut it short, and I came away a bit discouraged. I thought to myself, well surely the men will show up at the next outreach. Little did I know that God was going to primarily use a devoted single mother and her kids to grow our outreach ministry. Outreach after outreach rolled by and week after week it was Hannah and her sweet kids who showed up. Ashley, my wife, and I started praying that God would grow the love for serving in practical ways in our church, but, in His time and in His way. Overtime other women, usually those who Hannah invited, and kids starting showing up. Now we had 2 or 3 devoted women and their kids. Some Women had sons and daughters who were in the youth group which brought other youth students. Slowly, but surely God was building, not our idea of what a ministry would look like, but His Ministry of Outreach.
5 years later when we have a Church wide Outreach we have single Men, single Women, Kids, Husbands/Wives, College age adults, youth students, retirees, babies, and dogs all showing up (Literally, some people bring their dogs). It’s been an amazing story of growth that only God could do. If I am being candid, I must say that where our men were failing to step up to grow this ministry, God raised up devoted Women, who felt a call to serve and love on the community to take their place. Still to this day, I would say the women of our church, binging their families, are the core of our ministry. We have a lot of men that come and serve now, but for a majority of them, the entry point of their devotion was their wives willingness to be apart of our church’s efforts to reach the Not-Yet Believers in our community.
There is something to be said about a woman’s role in outreach. It truly is limitless. Some women lead, some women talk, some women pray, some women just serve by holding signs at car washes or washing windows at businesses without talking. Many of the women, when they start serving at our outreaches, come in timid, shy, unsure about the abilities and talents God has given them. Satan has a stronghold on the confidence of many women. However, after they start showing love in practical ways, overtime it is like they blossom and start thriving as the confident women God designed them to be. In fact when I needed leaders to lead outreach teams in our community, I started with 3 women who came in a bit timid, but now were on fire to reach the lost in our community and to lead our church in serving to show God’s love in practical ways. What is great about these leaders is that they now have husbands who are doing an awesome job leading as well, and encouraging more men to be apart of what we are doing!
There are not a lot of places inside the Church where women are encouraged to thrive while serving along side, and sometimes even leading teams with men on it. We do a lot of segregating in churches today, this is for the Men, this is for the Women. As Outreach leaders we have to see the value and role that women play in outreach even along side men. While I still believe that devoted men leading their families (which we have a lot of doing now) is an ideal thing to have for outreach, There are a lot of reasons why women find themselves thriving at, and playing a vital role in our outreaches:
- Great Outreach teams need to be upbeat, encouraging, and smile a lot. All qualities that Women are more apt to have.
- Great Outreach teams need to feel the hurt and pain of the community, to insert God’s love. Something Women are more sensitive to.
- Great Outreach teams need to be able to preform simple acts of humble service. Women seem to have an easier time with this.
- Great Outreach teams need to be comfortable praying out loud for those they are serving. I have noticed women are better at this.
- Great Outreach teams need to illuminate the change that Jesus has made in them. I believe this is easier seen in the face of a confident, vibrant, well loved, but humble woman.
- Great Outreach teams need to be Spirit led. I have noted that most of the times God has asked our teams to do something different than we had planned, it was a Woman He revealed this to.
- Great Outreach teams need to understand that a simple act of God’s love and Kindness truly can change the life of the recipient. Women come to know and experience this truth very quickly.
- Great Outreach teams apply what they learn on corporate outreaches to their every day life. I have heard many testimonies of our women sharing Christ with those they are around by using what they learned on outreaches.
- Great Outreach teams need to know they are valued. Something Women communicate very well.
- Great Outreach teams share stories and pictures of outreaches on social media. Women are awesome at this!
I believe if you look at any church that is reaching their community well with teams showing love in practical ways, you will find a group of humble, devoted, and Christ like women thriving in their roles. I will forever be grateful for the women of our church, who in the beginning were committed, who are now faithful, and who will in the future be devoted to sharing Christ’s love to our community. In the coming weeks we will have personal testimonies from women within our church about their role in our outreach ministry, and how God has used it to shape who they are.