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The Outreach

August 20, 2014

My church, along with two others near us, is in the process of planning an “outreach” to a nearby neighborhood.  You know what an outreach is in evangelical-speak right?   It is an organized way to get to know people and, hopefully, lead them into a relationship with Christ.  Here in North Carolina outreaches go on all the time.  When I used to live in a New York City suburb outreaches were about as rare as solar eclipses. 

I could be wrong but I don’t think a single member of the three churches knows personally anyone living in the community we are trying to reach.  I know we have picked a date, time and place for this outreach.  We also have a pretty clear idea of what the outreach is going to look like, although that is still being defined.  Less clear is how we are going to get a batch of strangers from the community to show up at the right time and place. 

I’ve gone on the internet to search “neighborhood outreach” and been told that:

  1. It is a good thing for Christians to do.
  2. There are a lot of sure-fire ways to do it.
  3. This guy actually has a “brilliant” way.
  4. Even better, this guy has 101 ways to do it.

All in all, if we trust the internet, this is an easy and effective way to love our neighbors and bring them into the Kingdom of God.  And, since we know that they can’t put something on the internet that isn’t true, this outreach of ours appears to be a slam-dunk.

As there are so many experts in this endeavor ready to help us it seems cheeky of me to offer any advice to the planners of our event but, what the hey, I am going to do it anyway, so here goes –

Nobody wants to be somebody else’s project.

Refining that, nobody wants us to care more about what they believe than who they are.  Nobody wants to be a notch, however well-meaning we are, on our evangelical belts.  Nobody wants us to love them so that we can change them.  Maybe we can do best if, whatever the strategy, our message is that we see you as a friend, not as a project.  Period.


From → Christianity

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