By guest blogger Insoo Kim, Vineyard Church Planter in Vancouver
In the sea of different choices for outreach options, how do you determine which would be best for your church plant or congregation? I have come up with the following set of criteria to help us evaluate our options:
- Is this something that will be appealing to non-Christians?
- Will this allow us to build ongoing relationships with people?
- Is it easy enough for someone brand new to get involved with, but still be a little stretching?
- Can we get involved with something that is already happening so that we can focus most of our energy on investing in people rather than creating a new program?
- Are these outreach projects something we can do on an ongoing basis even after the church gets established and grows?
In our case, we’re still a church plant meeting as a small group, but we’re intentionally using this season to drive our community toward an outward focus. We’re seeing these outreach events and social gathers as both evangelistic opportunities community building tools. In Vancouver where we’re planting, a lot of the people were engaging with may not have a favorable view of church, but there is a huge desire to experience community and to engage in ways that feel significant in the greater scheme of things. Given this environment, we want to select ways of serving that will appeal to non-Christians as well.
For example, one of the early ideas that came up was a service trip to Mexico. Even for people who know nothing about Jesus, they often have a heart for the poor. So the idea would be appealing for non-Christians to serve alongside us (#1), but it didn’t meet some of the other criteria. Ongoing relationships would be difficult and the bar of entry was high as far as cost and time, especially for a young church plant. We may pursue it down the road, but it didn’t meet too many of the criteria for where we are now.
So we reshaped that ministry to make it more accessible. We’re looking into serving with the Vancouver food bank. Our city has a big population of drug addicts and alcoholics, as well as a lot of wealth. For many people, it’s eye-opening to see how the rest of the world is living… right outside our door. This approach also allows us to make use of programs and structures that are already in place. In fact, look back at the five criteria—it meets all of them.