I was talking to a pastor who had attended a recent outreach workshop. He noted that he didn't learn anything new that his church could use. In fact he said that the outreach workshop presented much the same information as he has heard about outreach during his whole career. He was able to boil down the workshop to a simple statement: "People don't come to church anymore, if you want to reach people you have to reach them through relationships outside the church setting."
I then asked, "Since you already know all about outreach, how's it working for you? How have you and your congregation been reaching people through relationships outside the church setting?" When we got down to the truth of the matter, like most of our congregations, they weren't. They had good intentions, they talked about connecting with the community, they had tried some outreach; they had a Trunk or Treat at Halloween, they did VBS in the summer, and had an Octoberfest fund raiser each fall, but nothing that meaningfully connected with people in the community in relationship.
Reaching people, sowing seeds for the harvest, is not a priority for that pastor nor the people. The lion's share of the congregation's activity is invested in things that happened inside the church building, for church members.
NOTHING NEW in outreach. Jesus showed us how to do outreach almost 2,000 years ago, so did St. Paul, along with Peter, Barnabas, Timothy and Titus, etc. Outreach only happens when we reach out. There is no new gimmick, no new program, no new book that will ignite your congregation and turn your congregation around from declining and dying to inclining and thriving.
Only God can turn around your congregation, only the Holy Spirit working through means can convert a person. The way, that God has given us in the Scripture by which people are saved, is for the church to go!
Go! The only way outreach works is for the people of God to do what God has instructed.
Go, get outside the walls of the church building, get into the community and begin to connect with people who are hurt and broken with sin, people who desperately need Jesus.
Here's The Rub: How?
The pastor in my conversation above was correct that there is nothing new in outreach. But his lack of doing outreach, and leading his people in outreach, shows there is a real need for us to learn HOW to do outreach in our Lutheran context.
As your MMF, and a former mission planter for 12 years, I am offering a simple, practical, and doable Outreach Workshop for our congregations. I used these very same "How To's" that you will learn in the workshop to reach people in the community and see 125 adults and 167 children come to faith, baptism, and discipleship in the local congregation over a 3 year period.
I encourage you to bring the members of your congregation to a workshop near you, or better yet host an Outreach Workshop in your area. Our Outreach Workshops are free of charge to the host congregation, and only $5.00 per person to help cover cost of lunch.
There is one caveat, this workshop will probably not teach you anything new. However, you will learn how to create a simple, practical, and doable outreach plan specific to your congregation and community that will result in people coming to faith, baptism, and discipleship in your local
congregation, IF YOU WILL GO.
So far we have Workshops scheduled on the following Dates:
- January 9, Emmanuel, Bossier City, LA.
- January 16, Trinity, Monroe, LA.
- January 30, Bethany, Slidell, LA.
- Feb. 6, Good Shepherd, Gardendale, AL.
- Feb. 20, Jehovah, Pensacola, FL.
You are welcome to join us for any dates near you, or you are encouraged to contact Eric Johnson to schedule to host an outreach workshop at your congregation or circuit.