If you asked someone, “Where is your church?” they would likely give you a physical address or directions to the building where their congregation meets. However, we all know that bricks and mortar do not make a church. A church is made of people.
When we view church as a people and not a building, we realize that ministry can happen—and should happen—beyond Sundays. We can be on the lookout for outreach opportunities to show and share the love of Jesus outside of church. We can share in schools, workplaces, and neighborhoods.
This is the picture we see in the book of Acts. The early church was a new kind of community. A community that looked radically different from all others and was attractive because of the way they loved one another.
These believers shared meals together. They encouraged one another in the Word and worshipped together. They even sold off their possessions to provide for others’ needs and cover their debts. These believers showed the world what the love of Christ looks like in action.
Isn’t that what we all want our church and our ministry to look like? Rather than being known as a building, we want to be known as a people who love and serve our community. Here are some ideas for how your church can use outreach to care for your community.
Outreach in Local Schools
One of the things that unifies and identifies a particular community is the local school. Schools create a sense of pride and engagement for those who live in the area. And they are great places to build relationships with multiple generations.
Many schools have in-school or after-school programs where your church can volunteer to serve. When our local schools were looking for mentors to help students with reading, we saw it as an opportunity to serve. Our volunteers get to engage one-on-one with students and build a relationship through tutoring.
Over the course of a school year, we’ve seen these relationships with students grow. And many volunteers have been able to connect with the parents as well. By giving their time and showing care for the students, God has opened doors for us to share the gospel with dozens of families.
Other ways to serve in schools could be serving in the concession stand at sporting events, making copies, organizing supplies for teachers, or hosting events for the parent/teacher organization.
Create a Food & Clothing Pantry
In every community, there are families who struggle to know where their next meal will come from or how they afford clothing for their growing children. One of the most effective ways a church can show the love of Christ to their community is by meeting these needs.
A church in our city has designated an old choir room to be their food and clothing pantry outreach. Every Saturday, volunteers serve by distributing food and helping families shop for clothing. The food and clothing are mostly donated by church members, but local business have also contributed to meet their needs.
Volunteers spend time during the week organizing and arranging the pantry to be ready for Saturday. And then they spend their Saturday mornings building relationships with each family and serving them. When we know each other, we can better love each other.
If your church doesn’t have space to host a food and clothing pantry within your building, you could also use a weather-proof cabinet or deck box to create an all-season pantry. Donations can be dropped off whenever, and these supplies can be available whenever families have a need.
Organize a Neighborhood Cleanup Outreach
A great way to bless your community is by making it a more beautiful place to live. Your church can serve by organizing a neighborhood cleanup and recruiting church members to collect litter along the streets and inside local parks. Purchase a bulk supply of trash bags and disposable gloves for people to use and organize volunteers into teams to cover multiple parts of the city.
Last year, a church in my hometown community rented roll-off dumpsters and placed them around the community. The community was littered with old tires, construction debris, and other bulky items that were hard to dispose of.
The church ran ads and passed out flyers to invite the community to use the dumpsters to dispose of these things. Free of charge! Overnight, the community was transformed by this outreach. More kids played outside, more interactions took place with neighbors, and a greater appreciate for the church grew.
Provide Needed Services or Support
The church can also care for the community by providing services and support that are unavailable to families in the area. The church can host a job fair to help adults create resumes, prepare for interviews, and find potential employment.
Church staff and trained leaders can provide counseling services for families or children in need.
The same church that hosts a Saturday food and clothing pantry has also begun offering family counseling. If a family shares a burden or need, the church is quick to offer an appointment with a pastor or make a referral to a local counseling center.
God has done some amazing work of reconciliation and recovery through this church providing for an unmet need in the community.
The opportunities to love your community through outreach are endless. When it comes to outreach, the best thing your church can do is the next thing in love.
Put the love of Christ into action. Focus on relationships with the people of your community. Pray that God will give you openings to share the gospel. Now, let’s get out there and reach our community for Christ!
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