On November 4-7, four of us attended the National Outreach Conference in San Diego, California (www.nationaloutreachconvention.com).
We were inspired and challenged to elevate and pursue the value of outreach like never before. It was exciting to be around the pastors of the fastest growing churches in America. Many of them are doing the very same things.
It takes a multi-leveled, intentional outreach vision and strategy. One that incorporates community service, personal evangelism and services that are designed to grow the Church.
Here are some of the insights gained by our staff members (thanks Matt, Molly & Chris!).
1. Community Outreach as a Staff Driven Effort (Mobilizing Your Church for Outreach: Kevin Harney) If our church is going to succeed in impacting our community, it has be a universal mindset held by the whole staff. "How can I do what I do at the church in a way that will have a greater impact on our community?" This is one of my 2010 goals for outreach is to complete an intentional outreach through each one of our ministry teams (Small Groups, Children’s, Youth, and Music)
2. Make an Assessment of where our Church is investing its Time and Energy: What are we investing our time in and are those efforts helping to grow the health and the life of our church? Or, what are we doing that isn't reinvesting back into our community and our body?
3. Believers at Risk: An argument about reaching into the community is that the people in the church are at risk of corruption by the world. Mark Foreman mentioned that believers are at greater risk by hiding from non-Christians because it isn't providing an outlet to put their faith into practice.
4. Send Your People Outside: For a church to make a serious impact in its community, it needs to be communicated to the church on a regular basis. There are people sitting in our pews with immeasurable relationship and connections that are untapped and unused. They are getting spiritually fat because their faith isn't being exercised. We need to find away to match people's passions with their gifts and then connect those things with the needs in our community.
· A paradigm has been in the church…
- Get the people out of the world, into the church, up into heaven
-We need to think…out of heaven, into the church, out to the world
Quote - "Rather than picturing the church as safe, think of it as a training camp…be a terrorist of light"
· Cultural Pathways into the "world" for evangelism
-education, arts, philanthropy, technology, sports, government, business, media, religion, entertainment, medicine
-example of training Christian coaches…
· Risk Everything to Reach Everyone and then Release Everyone, always Remember God
-I love the passion in this statement! It reminds me how powerful a clear, concise and memorable vision statement can be.
Quote - "The world is a dangerous place not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing." - Albert Einstein
· I was so inspired by all of the churches represented at this conference that take a multi-site approach to church planting. Churches are growing by thousands and impacting many communities supported by the "mother" church. There are many different approaches to this church model. Some have a "real-time" feed to other campuses and others release other gifted teachers to start campuses. The possibilities are endless here!!
· To me, the main theme of this conference was about vision. The speakers and "experts" who presented at this conference all had big visions about evangelism and discipleship. This big vision forced them to think totally outside the box of normal church models. It wasn't about a formula with these leaders, it was really about hearing from God and acting BIG.
“Work what you’ve got”
We’re not to look at what we don’t have or strive to be something we’re not. God has uniquely gifted each of us, making our church a unique place. We need to take the talents and gifting we have and work them to the very best of our ability. Any person or church can do great things if their true to themselves and listen to what God is calling them to do.
Outreach as a Mission
Outreach isn’t a department; it’s the purpose of the whole church. Rather than creating and managing ministry within the walls of the church directed at Christians, we must mobilize our people to get outside the church walls. Church is a place to come be inspired and taught, and then sent back out into the world to bring people to Christ. It’s the whole purpose of the church. The staff, regardless of their specific responsibilities, should be organized around this purpose.
Adapting to a Post-Christian Culture
In a post-Christian society, we can no longer put on a good show and expect people to come. We must go to them in a content and conversation they will understand. As we create services and outreach, we must take into consideration that our society no longer provides a context for church as a part of people’s lives. For example, many sports teams meet on Sunday mornings. Are we asking parents to choose church over their kids? We need to creatively brainstorm solutions to the post-Christian cultural hurdles, both for our attendees and for the people we’re trying to reach. In addition, how can we see the post-Christian culture as an opportunity for outreach? For example, getting involved in local events and activates.
Vision is Essential
Vision is an absolute necessity. The church needs a clear vision and direction and it needs to be constantly communicated from the pulpit. In addition, it must be regularly discussed as a staff and decisions and ministries must be weighed against it. Speaker after speaker continually reaffirmed that if the vision of the church isn’t backed by the lead pastor and regular communicated from the pulpit, it’s not going to fly.