Every Wednesday we have a group of people who get together to do coordinate outreach. This is not a class about how to do outreach or a Bible study on what outreach is about, why we should do it, etc. We do have some of that from time to time but that is not what this class is about. This class is about people taking action to reach out to others. I want to lay our class outline out so maybe someone out there can pick this up and do this elsewhere. I have written about our process in coming up with this at other times. You can see that here.
I have prepared a class template so you guys can take this and run with it. This has taken a while to develop and has been tweaked over the last few months to a point where I think it is easily transferable to other churches. You can download the template below.
Bible study (15 minutes)
We start with a short Bible study that has something to do with outreach. We have talked about everything from the gifts of Ephesians 4 to the Great commission of Matthew 28. This is a time of informing and sharpening. At first it was a time of motivating but over time we realized that if someone is coming to this class, we are beyond motivation…they are ready to do something.
The four questions (25 minutes)
- What good things can we celebrate that has happened in our outreach this past week?
- Who do you know who we can reach out to?
- What efforts can we make this week to reach out to people?
- Who can you invite into this outreach ministry to do some work?
We ask these four questions for a couple of reasons. The most important reason is that we have people we are trying to reach out to and we just need to connect them with someone who wants to do it. Second, we realize there are people they know who we don’t and we need those names so we can pray for them and start the conversation with people we wouldn’t know about otherwise. Third, this is about changing the culture of the congregation. Once you ask this set of questions 10-15 times people start asking these questions themselves. It becomes a part of who they are, what they do, and how they see themselves ministering to others. The end result is a culture of outreach, new people being discipled and older Christians renewing their own discipleship process.
Following that last question, I have a list of names and contact information that I cut out into strips of paper that I hand out as assignments. These names come from a few places:
- Sunday morning visitors – If we have new people on Sunday they go on this list and are assigned to someone to contact
- Church Steps class – Each week as people mention others they want to reach out to we compile an organized list of names that we continue to bring up and pray over.
People volunteer to contact each person who we are reaching out to in order to help them get better connected at Northwest. So I start handing out slips of paper with names, contact info and any specific action items that need to be done for that person (invitation to class/LIFE group, encouragement if we know of a special situation, etc). That makes the contact less generic and more meaningful when it happens.
Prayer (5-10 minutes)
Prayer is the most important thing we do in this class. Every week I give out a list of everyone who is going to be contacted that week so we can all be praying for every single one. This is key. We are asking God to use us and asking God to open hearts for the Gospel. They take this home with them every week. So even if someone didn’t get someone to contact they are still praying over this list. We spend the last few minutes of class praying for God to work something good in all of this.
Our goal is to reach lost people and integrate new Christians. We help them feel welcome and get them into a LIFE group, Bible class, or ministry where they can do two things: get to know others and get to know God. Starting in October we are going to have a Wednesday night basics class where we can invite people to come and learn about Christianity. This is going to be an essential piece in us making disciples through our outreach and our Steps class will naturally feed people into it on an ongoing basis.
I can’t tell you how excited I am about all of this. One of the things that I love most about it is that it has few moving parts. The more complicated something gets the more likely it is to break. Make it simple, repeatable and celebrate it when it goes well and good things begin to happen and it is sustainable. Too many of our ministries fizzle out because we go to one of two extremes: have no plan so nothing happens or have a plan that is so complicated that no one can do it or maintain it. Simplicity is key!