A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. -Luke 6:45
The first law of effective outreach deals with the church’s heart for the unsaved. The heart leads us into both action and speech; and godly actions and speech without a matching heart make us like Pharisees (Isaiah 29:13, Mark 7:6). It is important to start with a genuine heart for the Lord.
As Bob Pierce, the founder of both Samaritan’s Purse and World Vision once wrote in his Bible, “Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God.” While we are given glimpses of the Lord’s heart many times in scripture, Jesus’ ministry on earth gives us great examples…
In Luke 19:10 Jesus communicated his heart for the unsaved, his outreach identity: “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Jesus often broke bread with sinners, and cared for the unfortunate. Jesus’ heart was evident in his actions.
Your church has a similar opportunity to communicate its heart, and from it create a clear mission to reach the lost. Here are a few suggestions and principles to build your outreach identity in the 21st century…
1. Develop a Mission Statement
A mission statement establishes a foundation for your church. It defines your heart and passion, it prioritizes your programming and directs your resources (budget), and focuses your goals.
A Comprehensive Plan: Establish a vision, core values, and plan of implementation along with your mission statement.
Inspire to Action: Constantly remind church members of your church mission. Reference it in your literature, in your church announcements and in your sermons on a regular basis.
2. Understand Your Community
Each community is a culture unto itself—with history, perceptions, and occupations unique to its locale. When you consider the demographics and needs of people in your community, your church can better approach them with the Gospel by meeting those needs or answering their important questions.
3. Understand Your People
Take an inventory of the members of your church to determine their gifts and abilities. Discern ways these gifts can be used for new outreach opportunities. Try a spiritual gifts inventory, or Purpose Driven’s SHAPE assessment.
4. Take a Resource Inventory
Consider the various resources available to your church (in addition to dollars) that might be repurposed for outreach. Consider how resources like your church building, land or vehicles could serve your community.
5. Assess Ministry Programs
Consider how ministries in your church family are currently reaching out. Every ministry should have at least one outreach component.
6. Identify Partner Ministries & Organizations
Charities likely exist in your community (i.e. your local food pantry). Discover how you might partner with them, leverage their existing networks, and reach even more people for Christ.
7. Update Your Image to Reflect Your Identity
Your image is your outward face of your inward identity. As a matter of integrity, the goal is to have an image that best reflects who you are as a church. Consider how your logo, signage, brochures, ad pieces, other communication materials, and your building work together to represent who you are.
8. Build Bridges Into Your Community
Build both short-term bridges, such as a specific one-time event or message series, and long-term bridges, which consistently meet the needs of people over time, like a support group or food pantry. For further insight on this subject, read The Church of Irresistible Influence by Robert Lewis.
What is your church’s mission statement?