Outreach Doesn’t Work

If you’re a church going person then this will likely hit you hard. You probably won’t like these words. And there’s a chance you might be put off by some of what I’m about to say. That doesn’t change it from being true however.

Not liking getting a speeding ticket doesn’t make it so I don’t have to pay for it. It just means I don’t like the harsh realities that stand before me. Sometimes the truth hurts. And lest someone pull a Bible verse out of context speak the truth in love please read what that’s about. It has nothing to do with calling out a misinterpretation or a misunderstanding. Ok with that out of the way, here we go.

I’ve read far too many articles, social media posts, how to bloggers, podcasters and more on the topic of outreach. I’ve heard people ask for the best outreach strategies. Today I read a question about what are the most effective outreach strategies your churches have done.

Sorry friends you’re asking the wrong question because outreach won’t work.

I say this as a former mission and ministry coordinator. I was an outreach pastor. I do outreach events, although very limited few of them. I slowed that way down when I realized I had it backwards.

Outreach does not work!

Look think of it this way. Who is going to come to a church’s outreach event? I mean who attends your VBS? Easter Egg Hunt? Block party? Normally the ones that come are the ones that have a predisposition to the gospel. They’ve already heard the message. Will you get to connect with someone who doesn’t have a church home currently? Maybe? Possibly. But are they people who don’t know Jesus? Are they people who have limited knowledge of the workings of God in their lives? Probably not.

The people who come to church events, even the cool outreach ones, have some acceptance factors built in toward the church already. They’ve already been in a church before. You might be shuffling people around from one church to another. You might gain another face or two. But where are they coming from? Probably, if stats hold true they’re from another church down the road. The church that just got a new pastor or whose pastor isn’t cutting it for them anymore. That’s not the purpose of outreach.

Outreach doesn’t work because it’s not for the purpose we think it is.

Churches tend to want some silver bullet type of outreach strategy. We try to find the one thing that will work across all spectrums, races, economic levels, just simple and easy. Plug and play. Well that actually does exist but it takes work. It’s not quite easy but it’s actually pretty simple.

The best outreach you can do for your church is to not lower expectations. Don’t make it easier to just be a butt in a seat. Do you expect the people who call themselves members of the church to be involved in the life of the church beyond Sunday? Volunteerism? Ministry leadership? Actually doing something?

The Bible doesn’t tell us to be about outreach. It tells us to be about discipleship. If we’d focus on discipleship, you know equipping the saints for works of ministry and all that, then the outreach stuff would happen organically, naturally and constantly!

Please stop looking for the best outreach method when you’re not willing to sink the time and effort into raising up and equipping the men and women that you already have. What makes you think that God will send you new people if you’re not leading the ones you have (parable of talents anyone).

I’m not trying to be snarky and nasty or mean or rude. It’s just quit griping and complaining about how hard life and ministry are if you’re not going to double down on the talent God has given you. Don’t complain about something God never promised. Don’t focus on the things God never told you to make your main focus.

That’s it. Outreach does not work. But working on discipleship has tremendous impacts on outreach.

Source: www.derrickhurst.org

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