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Leaf Raking

With the change in seasons, comes a change in how we approach to display the love of Christ to our community in practical ways. The season of fall always brings excitement and there are plenty of specifically seasonal outreaches you can do during Autumn. Here are 3 outreaches that you should consider doing during the fall season:

1. Free Coffee at Starbucks

The crispness of Autumn weather draws coffee lovers to Starbucks like nothing else. One the best outreaches to do is to send a team to Starbucks or a local coffee/donut shop, buy a gift card with usually around $200 on it, and give it to the employee at the cash register so when people order, they can tell them that their coffee has been payed for. Have your team either sit at a visible table inside or the tables right outside the door. Have them ask the employees to simply point to the team’s table and say, “The people at the table over there paid for your coffee today.” Excited customers instinctively come over to thank the team and ask why they are paying for everyone’s coffee. This is a great time to give them your outreach card and tell them that you are displaying the free love of Jesus in a practical way today by buying coffee for everyone. 

Over time, the employees of Starbucks will really get excited when you do this outreach. In fact some employees even ask our teams if they can tell customers why they are buying everyone’s coffee, give out the outreach cards, and tell them what church the team is with! We love to let them do this so they can experience the life changing power of advancing God’s kingdom through tangible, practical kindness.

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2. Leaf Raking

I love the fall, but the thing i hate the most about the season, is having to rake my lawn. Leaf raking can be very burdensome when you are doing it all alone. When outreach teams do it as a group and do it for other people it becomes a blast. Kids, teenagers, and adults can all work together at this outreach. Simply grab some rakes, gloves, and trashbags and go to a neighborhood with a lot of leaves. Tell the homeowners you are raking the leaves of the entire neighborhood, just to show God’s love in a practical way! Make sure you mention it is free and you are not taking donations. Spend time talking to the homeowner and after you are done ask to pray a quick 10 second prayer for them!

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3. Nursing home Pumpkin Giveaway

For this outreach send your team to nursing homes with small pumpkins to decorate and write kind/encouraging words on the pumpkins with the residents. From time to time teams will even bring a friendly dog or two. Many times the churches doing this outreach will get a letter back from the family members thanking the church for the pumpkin with a simple decoration and an encouraging sentence on it. They mention that it not only touched the family member living in the nursing home, but the entire family.

There is something moving and touching about serving those who could never attend your church gathering. When we serve with no expectations or no strings attached, we are projecting the light and life of Christ on those we are serving in a pure way. To serve in a way Jesus did always moves, and deeply touches those we are serving, families of those we are serving, and those of us that are serving God by serving others. Anytime teams do something at local nursing homes, they always come back humbled and encouraged.

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This past week we had a Church Wide Outreach where we sent out 3 different teams to serve our community in practical ways. We had a leaf raking team, a free starbucks team, and a team that went to a self serve car wash and payed for every car that came in. Earlier in the week, we had our young adult small group do a free Starbucks and free laundry day outreach. God impacted many people through these outreaches. Here are some of the highlights:

1. Young Adult Small Group Outreaches

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Our young adult small group has committed to doing an outreach together once a month. This past monday we sent out two teams of 4 to show God’s love in practical ways. 1 team went to Starbucks with a $200 gift card and payed for everyone’s coffee that came in for an hour! Our other team went to a local laundromat with rolls of quarters and when people came in we would say, “It’s free laundry day!” and tell those we were serving we were doing this to display the love of Christ in a practical way. We also brought coloring books for the kids and bought soda’s/waters for the customers that beat us there.

The most powerful aspect of the laundry outreach is that when we serve in God’s name, people open up to you, often about spiritual things. Since they are there doing laundry for hours sometimes, we are often able to connect with people on a very deep level. One of our team members named Jordan met a sweet couple and started getting to know them. They opened up to her that they were new to town and looking for a church. They expressed that they moved from their hometown to get away from the grief of their 17 year old son passing away last year. Jordan got to connect, minister, encourage this couple and I was able to pray over them outside in the parking lot before they left. It was very humbling for God to use us to encourage this sweet family. Pray they will connect with a local church, even if it is not ours.

2. Quarters at Self Serve Car wash

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This was the first time we ever tried this outreach and it went great! We simply, much like the free laundry outreach, took a bunch of quarters to a self serve car wash, and when people pulled up, we told them that it was free car wash day today. Our team would feed the meter and keep the car wash going until the owners could finish washing their car. Our team leaders said that people were super surprised and even wanted to talk and connect with our outreach teams. Due to this fact, we are planning on not only paying for the car wash, but also washing the cars next time. We of course would give the owners that option. Anytime we can set up outreaches that we can connect with people on a deeper level, we will do it!

Many times when we are coaching other churches to start outreaches, they want to know how everything will play out before they jump in. I will tell you, if that is what you are waiting for, you will never be effective in reaching your community. We have a very Ready, Fire, Aim mentality. This outreach is a great example of just this. We had an idea, tried it out, and will adapt it next time.

Ready, Fire, Aim. Be careful NOT to Ready, Aim, Aim, Aim, Aim….

3. Leaf Raking Outreach

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With Spring coming, this was the last leaf raking outreach of the season. Our team raked 1 yard, and raked up a ton of bags! It turns out that the woman that they served, had her yard raked by our church last year. We didn’t purposely rake this yard twice, but we have noticed that serving the same people on a consistent basis is an effective tool to let the community know that we are serious about showing God’s love in practical ways. We want to frequent the same areas to show our commitment and to connect with those we have previously served on a deeper level.

One manager of a local pizza joint has had his windows washed 5 or 6 times by us over the years. He came up to me last week and said, “There are a lot of churches that talk, talk, talk, but you guys actually show!”

We want, if anything, for our community to miss us if we were gone. That might be a good measuring stick on how effective you are being in serving others in practical ways. Would anyone notice if your church dissapeared?

4. Free Starbucks Outreach

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At our church wide outreach, we had a team go to the same Starbucks we went to with our young adult small group and pay for everyone that came in for an hour. The best way to do this is to put around $200 to $300 on a gift card, find a table to sit at, and tell the Starbucks employee that when people order, tell them that the people at “That” table payed for your coffee today. People naturally will come over and ask who you are. We like to sit outside and when people come out, we say, “Did you get your free coffee?”

In the past, employees have sometimes been a bit hesitant to do this for us; however, over time, with us proving ourselves that there truly are not strings attached, they have gone from being hesitant to ecstatic when we come in to do this outreach. In fact this time, i went in to tell the employees thank you for letting us do this, and they said that they love when we come in, and that when we pay or everyone’s Starbucks, their tips increase tremendously.

God’s kindness is contagious!

This past saturday we had around 30 people divide into 3 teams that went out to serve our community in practical ways. We had a free leaf raking team, a team that provided a local laundry mat with a free laundry day, and a team that gave out blankets to nursing homes. Here is a brief summary of what we did and some highlights of each outreach:

1. Blanket Giveaway at Nursing home

This team took 100 blankets that we either purchased at Wal-Mart or had donated to local nursing homes and gave them out. One of our leaders noticed on a previous nursing home outreach that many of the people living there did not have their own blankets, so we thought this would be a fun and practical way to show Christ’s love. We went door to door giving out the blankets and saying prayers for those we were serving.

Our team met a sweet lady who was turning 98 and we were able to give her a blanket as a birthday gift.  Our team said this lady was deeply moved that we were showing God’s love in such a practical way, and it just happened to be on her 98th birthday!

When we love on our local nursing homes we always notice that God is also using us to impact the employees that devote their life to this type of service. We have been able to develop relationships, encourage, and pray for the employees of the nursing homes as we have committed to serving there on a consistent basis.

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2. Leaf Raking

Usually on this outreach we just show up to a neighborhood that has a bunch of leaves and go door to door telling people that we are leaf raking front yards for free to display the love of God in a practical way and knock out 5 or 6 houses in an hour and a half. However, this Saturday we went to the house of an elderly woman who’s daughter goes to our church so we could bless her by raking her leaves. Our team worked tirelessly and when the hour and half that we planned on serving was gone, they had raked more than 50 bags and made the front, side, and back yard look great.

I was a little worried because i thought our team was going to be frustrated that they only got to one yard, but after the outreach, they were all very excited and saw the purpose in taking the entire time to serve someone’s mom within our church who needed it. A large part of reaching the community that is around us is to show them that we love, serve, and take care of our own. We do enough leaf raking outreaches throughout the year that taking this weekend to serve in this way was well worth it.

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3. Free Laundry Day

Our Free Laundry team went to a local laundry mat with $200 in quarters, donuts, and coloring books to bring some fun to a very mundane task. We simply tell everyone in the laundry mat that we are providing a free laundry day to show Jesus’ love in a practical way.

The best part of this outreach is the time you get to spend with people while they do their laundry. Our teams are able to make connections, get in deep conversations, and many times share the Gospel in a very organic way. 

On this Saturday I was on the free laundry team and I was able to meet and connect with a man named Jason. We talked about our families, his job, and our struggles. I felt the Lord prompt me to share the Gospel with Jason after some time talking with him. Kindness Outreach provides a great Segway into the Gospel since we tell everyone we are there to love, serve, and give a free gift with no strings attached. Among other things I explained to Jason that just like the quarters were our free gift to him, God’s free gift of salvation is through Christ and just like he accepted the free laundry day we were providing, all God requires of us is to accept His Son Jesus and to surrender our lives to following him. Jason kept saying, “I know God sent you here to talk to me today” (this is very common on our outreaches by the way). Jason told me that He received Christ 5 years ago, but since then he has strayed away and gotten into some things that has hurt his family, his job, and his faith. I was able to encourage Jason that we serve a God that is abundant in mercy and shared with him the story of the Prodigal Son. I told him that God is waiting for him with open arms and He will show him nothing, but kindness when Jason returns rather than requiring him to do religious acts to get back on His good side. God used this to impact this man deeply. We exchanged phone numbers and he told me that he did not have a church and he was going to come to ours either Sunday or Wednesday. Pray for Jason.

We serve a God that is not random and i know God had me there specifically for Jason. Many people from our church have felt this same way when they connect with individuals in our community during outreaches. God does the hard part, we are simply called to be obedient and to go out and serve!

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I will continue to post outlines and highlights after each of our outreaches. I hope they will encourage you to start living an outwardly focused life and give you some simple tools to use as a church and as individuals. Please contact me if i can assist in any way.

With the changing of the seasons you have to be willing to adapt your kindness outreaches. It would be silly of course to continue to do your summer outreaches in the winter. Can you imagine a free car wash in 30 degree weather? The warmth of Spring and Summer allows many creative outreaches to be done; however the chill of fall and winter bring opportunities to reach out to people in different ways as well. Here are 5 great cold weather outreaches:

#1 Free Leaf Raking

Leaf raking can be very burdensome when you are doing it all alone. When we do it as a group and do it for other people it becomes a blast. Kids, teenagers, and adults can all work together at this outreach. Simply grab some rakes, gloves, and trashbags and go to a neighborhood with a lot of leaves. Tell the homeowners you are raking the leaves of the entire neighborhood just to show God’s love in a practical way! Make sure you mention it is free and you are not taking donations. Spend time talking to the homeowner and after you are done ask to pray a quick 10 second prayer for them!

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# 2 Winter Survival Kit Giveaway

I remember never being prepared for winter. When my lips became chapped, i developed a cough, and my nose was running like a raging river, i was left to fend for myself or use whatever i had laying around the house (wiping your nose over and over again with paper towels hurt!) This outreach gives people tools to be prepared for the cold! It also shows that you, as a Christian, truly care for the people you are serving in a simple and practical way. 

These Winter Survival kits consist of 1 snack sized bag, several cough drops, facial tissue, chap stick, and a connection card (See Below). They cost around $1 to put together and are a great way to love your community in truly a practical way. Try passing them out at college apartments/dorms, downtown areas, businesses, and low income housing. We have had many people tell us they use the kits when they become sick! We met The family in the pic below on one of these outreaches and they started attending our church almost every week before they recently moved.

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#3 Free Laundry Day

On this kindness outreach you get to be out of the cold weather and inside a warm laundry mat! Have a team of about 5-8 people go to a local laundry mat with rolls of quarters and tell people as they walk in that you are showing them that Jesus loves them today by paying for everyone’s laundry that comes in! We usually bring coloring books for kids and donuts for everyone to make their laundry experience as enjoyable as we can! This outreach is great for making deep connections with people since you can sit and talk with them while their laundry is being washed. Many of times our teams are able to share the Gospel in depthly and organically with those they are serving.

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#4 Free Coffee at Starbucks

The cold weather draws coffee lovers to Starbucks like nothing else. One of our favorite outreaches to do is to send a team to Starbucks or a local coffee shop, buy a gift card with usually around $200 on it, and give it to the employee at the cash register so when people order, they can tell them that their coffee has been payed for. We usually either sit at a visible table inside or the tables right outside the door. We ask the employees to simply point to our table and say, “The people at the table over there paid for your coffee today.” Excited customers instinctively come over to thank us and ask why we are paying for everyone’s coffee. This is a great time to give them your outreach card and tell them that you are displaying the free love of Jesus in a practical way today by buying coffee for everyone. 

We have noticed over time, the employees of Starbucks really get excited when we do this outreach. In fact some employees even ask us if they can tell customers why we are buying everyone’s coffee, give out our outreach cards, and tell them what church we are with! We love to let them do this so they can experience the life changing power of advancing God’s kingdom through tangible, practical kindness.

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# 5 Free Red Box Codes

For this outreach you will need popcorn packets, glue dots, connection cards, and free red box promo codes. You can purchase red box promo codes, which gives this you are serving one free night when they rent a movie from a red box, at redbox.com. We simply glue dot a connection card and a promo code on the front of a popcorn packet and give them out to businesses, college apartments/dorms, apartment complexes, community events, even at red box machines.

We usually use the cold temperature to our advantage by telling people “Hey we know its cold, so we wanted to provide you with a free movie night on us, to show you God’s love in a practical way.”

One man who recently came to know the Lord at our church told me that when he was in his “I hate God” stage of his life, receiving a free red box from someone that was serving him with no strings attached would have touched him deeply on a spiritual level and drawn him to closer to Christ. I think this highlights a truth that it does matter what specifically we give out, or how we practically serve people. What matters is to allow others to experience God’s tangible kindness through Christ followers that are sold out to advancing the kingdom by serving the community.

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There are a ton of outreaches you can do when it gets cold: pass out hot chocolate, serve a local nursing home, shovel snow off people’s drive and walk ways, take people’s trash out at apartments, etc. God always moves in people when they step out and serve others in His name. We have found when the weather is dicey and people do not expect us to be out serving, God uses the unexpected service to draw people to Jesus!

With the change in seasons, comes a change in how we approach to display the love of Christ to our community in practical ways. The season of fall always brings excitement and there are plenty of specifically seasonal outreaches you can do during Autumn. Here are 3 outreaches that you should consider doing during the fall season:

1. Free Coffee at Starbucks

The crispness of Autumn weather draws coffee lovers to Starbucks like nothing else. One of our favorite outreaches to do is to send a team to Starbucks or a local coffee shop, buy a gift card with usually around $200 on it, and give it to the employee at the cash register so when people order, they can tell them that their coffee has been payed for. We usually either sit at a visible table inside or the tables right outside the door. We ask the employees to simply point to our table and say, “The people at the table over there paid for your coffee today.” Excited customers instinctively come over to thank us and ask why we are paying for everyone’s coffee. This is a great time to give them your outreach card and tell them that you are displaying the free love of Jesus in a practical way today by buying coffee for everyone. 

We have noticed over time, the employees of Starbucks really get excited when we do this outreach. In fact some employees even ask us if they can tell customers why we are buying everyone’s coffee, give out our outreach cards, and tell them what church we are with! We love to let them do this so they can experience the life changing power of advancing God’s kingdom through tangible, practical kindness.

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2. Leaf Raking

I love the fall, but the thing i hate the most about the season, is having to rake my lawn. Leaf raking can be very burdensome when you are doing it all alone. When we do it as a group and do it for other people it becomes a blast. Kids, teenagers, and adults can all work together at this outreach. Simply grab some rakes, gloves, and trashbags and go to a neighborhood with a lot of leaves. Tell the homeowners you are raking the leaves of the entire neighborhood, just to show God’s love in a practical way! Make sure you mention it is free and you are not taking donations. Spend time talking to the homeowner and after you are done ask to pray a quick 10 second prayer for them!

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3. Free Pumpkin Giveaway

Whether they like to put them up as decoration, or season and roast their seeds to eat, everyone loves a pumpkin during the fall season. This is why free pumpkin giveaways can be very effective in reaching and serving others. Simply find an apartment complex, or neighborhood that the homes or close together, and go door to door telling people that you are giving away pumpkins for free to show God’s love in a practical way. With outreaches like this we usually like to pick a low income area of our community that has families with a bunch of kids.

Pumpkins can be expensive; however, if you can work it out with a distributer, usually you can get them in bulk for pretty cheap. You can also buy 40 or 50 medium sized pumpkins for around $200 from any Wal-Mart.

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Last post I talked about how we can start setting up introverts to succeed in reaching others for Christ, If you have not read that post i suggest you give it a quick read before you check out this post. You can find it here:

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Here are 5 great Kindness Outreaches that allow introverts to thrive and grow in their boldness while serving others.

1. $1 Car Wash

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This Kindness Outreach is where we hold up big signs that read “$1 Car Wash”. People are already thinking that they are getting a great deal, yet when they pull in, we wash their car for free and give them a dollar to remind them that Jesus’ love is free and it just has to be accepted like they are accepting the dollar. A majority of the team just washes and dries while only a few talk to the people we are serving. 

2. Business Window Washing

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Go get some paper towels and Windex and simply go to businesses explaining , “Hey we are washing windows for free today at all the businesses on this strip, and we are not taking any donations” once they agree to letting you wash their windows, have your team get to work.

Looking at this Picture it is obvious that God is working through these children to serve and reach people even though most of them are introverts at this stage in their life. The point here is if they were pushed too far too fast, it would leave a bad taste of what outreach is in their mouth. However, these kids are growing by serving and we have had instances where kids become bold enough to start praying with the people we are serving and even in some instances sharing their faith!

3. Leaf Raking 

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This Outreach is best done in late winter and early spring when there are leaves on the ground. Only 2 or 3 people are required to knock on the door and explain to homeowners that we are leaf raking yards in their neighborhood for free. It takes the other 10 people to do the raking and bagging.

4. Roadside Drink Giveaway

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On a warm day take gatorades and waters to a busy red light and have your team hold up Free Drink Signs. Have people simply walk up to the cars at the red-light, and with a big smile simply say, “Would you like a Free water or Free Gatorade?”

At first this outreach sounds a bit bold and scary for some. However introverts make for great sign holders and there is always a need for team members to refill the bags with drinks.

5. Apartment Trash Takeout

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Most apartments have centralized dumpsters and the people living there are required to take their own trash out to the dumpster. Have your team of 4 or 5 people go door to door saying “We are taking everyone’s trash out for free today just to show you that Jesus loves you in a practical way.” they will almost always bring you their trash and you can give them a replacement bags.

Introverts love this outreach because their job can simply be taking the trash to the dumpster while the other team members can hand the talking and saying quick 10 second prayers with the people that they are serving.

As you can see all of these outreaches consist of the same formula. 2 or 3 talk, the rest of the team serves. God has done some amazing things in the life of introverts in our church (By the way about 70% of church members in the U.S. are introverts). We believe by not trying to push introverts too fast, but by setting them up to succeed in reaching out through serving makes all the difference. This will change an inward focused church into an outward focus church that is a dangerous tool in advancing God’s kingdom.

One of the biggest lies Satan tells us is that we are not qualified to reach out. This lie seems to be prevalent among introverts. When people who would identify more with introverted characteristics think of evangelism, they mainly think of people who have characteristics of an extrovert. This lie permeates in their mind, and it is easy for introverts to say, “Outreach/evangelism is just not for me….that is for extraverted people who like that kind of stuff” This; however, can not be further from the truth and church leaders need to start designing outreaches so that introverts and extroverts can equally thrive in evangelism.

Let’s start with this: Evangelism is a very scary word! In fact 90% of Christians dislike the word evangelism. This i believe is because we have the wrong view and definition of what Evangelism is. We think of Evangelism as either a preacher traveling around spitting out Fire and Brimstone to a congregation or we think of the crazies that stand on street corners and yell at people to get saved. I like to define Evangelism as this:

Evangelism = Anything that you say and do that draws not yet believers to Christ

Lets remember that Jesus told us that No one can come to Him, except those who God draws (john 6:44). This automatically takes the responsibility off of us and on God to draw people to Christ. However, with that said, God uses us as tools to reach people with the Gospel and no one is exempt from that calling. Now we can understand it is not us who saves people, but it is God who uses us in evangelism (anything that is said and done that draws not yet believers to Christ) to bring people to a saving knowledge of Jesus.

Keeping this in mind and having a revamped definition of what evangelism is, it opens the door for everyone to have endless opportunities and ideas for us to reach out and evangelize our community. We believe that through serving people with no strings attached just to let them know that God loves them is an extremely effective way for God to use us to draw people to Christ. Furthermore the idea of serving speaks to and motivates introverts. The same study that found that 90% of Christians disliked the word evangelism found that 90% of Christians like the word and idea of serving. So lets combine the two!

What i mean by this, is that you should design outreaches where there are those on your team who serve without speaking, and those on your team who are up front, telling people that you are serving them with no strings attached because that is what Jesus would do today. For instance when we go to businesses to wash windows only a few people out of a team of 10-15 will go and tell the business owners that we are washing windows to display God’s love in a practical way with no strings attached. When the store agrees to let us wash their widows, the entire team gets washing and when finished the same few people go in and give the person they spoke with an outreach card and offer to say a quick 10 second prayer with them. Everyone else on the team played an important part in allowing the “few” to speak and pray with people by simply washing the windows of the business.

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This is something that we have found introverts identify with and thrive in: Evangelizing and reaching out through serving!

The pictures below of a free leaf raking team are a great example of this. Notice that everyone is simply serving by leaf raking, while one person took the time to speak, reach out, and pray with the homeowner of the yard that the team was leaf raking.

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The truth is that God wants and can use anyone no matter who they are, what their age is, or if they identify as an introvert or extrovert. In fact we have seen God grow people from almost vomiting at the idea of sharing Christ with others into being bold Gospel presenters that I trust to share Christ with anyone in any situation. Don’t push your introverts too fast. Give them a towel and some window cleaner, or a rake and some bags and let them know they are a valuable tool that God can use even if they are not speaking or praying with people. I will guarantee you they will grow in their boldness through serving others!

Next week i will write about which outreaches are best for introverts to serve on.