Getting outside the church walls to serve and represent the love of Jesus to people around you is a difficult step for many churches and many of us as individuals.
I used to see it as an unnecessary drain of volunteer hours desperately needed to man the programs inside our church.
And today’s emerging adults would have seen me and our congregation as uncaring, serving only ourselves, and therefore an unlikely home for them to grow, worship, and belong.
I’ve since repented!
Many churches now break outside their walls and regularly, amazingly, serve people around them with compassion and confidence.
But, many of those same churches oftentimes find their volunteers weary and their mission aspirations unmet.
So, here are 5 ways to increase impact and sustainability outside the church walls:
- Find the door God might be opening on the outside. (Read Luke 10:5-6). Listen for the unmistakable passion on the inside. Do what you’re good at doing.
- Develop leaders. Leaders gather the volunteers, own the vision, and possess trusted character and competence. Efforts get tired and die when we don’t develop leaders.
- Value inviting friends, workmates, neighbors to serve with your team. (Ask your team to be nice to them!) Let them taste the essence of your team and the grace within it.
- Build relational capital where you serve. Earn opportunity to give voice to the Gospel. Minimize “one and done” once you find your open door.
- Share occasional meals together as a team. Meals change everything. Share stories of what you’re doing and what it’s doing in you. Pray. Invite those neighbors, friends and workmates who have been serving with you.
Opportunities are equal for the smallest of congregations to the largest and everything in between. But, it’s frequently an uneven, uncertain journey into unfamiliar terrain. Sometimes we don’t even like the people who populate the community around us. Most of us more quickly focus on what we can’t do rather than what we can.
So, take a quick inventory:
- What are we doing now to serve people outside our church with no strings attached and no expectation of a “thank you” or a converted soul?
- What do we need to figure out? Do we need to start or fix anything?
- What do we need to pray for?
Finally, thanks for leading! Thanks for being a pioneer into new frontier! Leadership can be hard. It can be mostly uphill. It can be threatening, but equally exciting.
Rev. Dr. Jock Ficken