The Inreach/Outreach Ratio of Your Congregation

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At the congregation where you worship, what is the ratio of things geared at inreach (geared at people already Christians) to those geared toward outreach (geared to non-Christians)? I am doing a lot of thinking on this right now and could use some perspective. So if you have 10 inreach related things for every 1 outreach you would pick the first option. If your congregation is almost perfectly balanced, the middle option and if you are very outreached focused with little inreach then pick the last.

0 Responses

  1. Let me define that better. One simple gauge would be your calendar of events. You could go way overboard and look at your deacons, ministers, etc and try to come up with something more comprehensive but I am just wanting more of a snapshot than anything else. Not too much work expected here. You probably know the number with just a bit of reflection.

  2. This is really tough to accurately assess, as I’m sure you’re discovering. Calendar activities may be one indicator, but doesn’t every worship service technically qualify as an outreach event by virtue of the sheer fact that it is a public assembly?

    My first stop would be the church’s budget. I can’t speak for everyone, but I would guess that most church’s budgets are geared about 10% outreach or less. Again, that might be misleading, as many budget points can have an outreach component just because non-members are invited or find themselves there.

    And then there are the intangibles. A congregation might simply be outreach oriented simply because their members are generally gregarious. It wouldn’t take more than a few friendly families to tip a congregation that doesn’t give outreach a thought into an evangelistically successful church.

    1. Very true. I wouldn’t really count the worship unless it is overtly seeker sensitive. Most aren’t. That’s like saying we are evangelizing because we have the doors open. Not necessarily. Now, the budget is another great way to assess this as it can easily reveal our priorities.

    2. one more thing to look at might be historical growth. While not the only indicator, a church that hasn’t grown significantly could be said to be not outreach oriented, even if it had significant time and money dedicated to outreach. Conversely, steady growth might be an indicator of the “intangibles” I mentioned earlier. IOW, results count.

  3. well, even many of those events we mark as “outreach” are often either:

    1) incredibly beneficial to maturing and growing those IN the church (inreach) OR
    2) used selfishly by those IN the church so they can spend time together.

    there aren’t any cut and dry lines, but it seems to me that when we serve those outside our walls (especially on their turf and in their neighborhoods, ie teaching english, building houses, wrapping christmas presents, etc.), we do a great job of representing Christ in our community. and as a byproduct we do a great job of maturing and equipping the body of Christ for (more) good works.

    and it seems when our “outreach” is not service as much as entertainment (ie. super bowl parties, trunk-or-treat, or coffee houses), the christians involved tend to use those activities more selfishly. they’re constantly having to be reminded (the bulk of them) that these are events for the community, and that they should be welcoming visitors and getting to know them. these events have much better turnout — and no doubt people from our communities attend — but the body of Christ does not seem to be matured.

    it’s easy to see this in a youth group. or in a university student group. it’s harder to see it in the larger picture of church, though, because we tend to pat ourselves on the back for offering “services” to our communities, without thinking through the whole of it all.

    i’m not wholly against those entertainment invitation events, but i think we ought to weigh them carefully against other “outreach” events that actually do a good job of “inreach” and maturation at the same time. i don’t know that, in many cases, we have to choose between the two — but can have both.

  4. As with many of those who commented, I find it difficult to determine what is inreach and what is outreach. If anyone has a list I would love to have it because at least some activities have elements of both. I found this post because I was searching the net for inreach ideas because I was trying to put together a lesson on inreach.

    After close examination, I had to admit that simply thinking back over my time with the church where I now preach, we have spent much more time on outreach to the community than we have on inreach to local members. Therefore, I voted 3 inreach to 7 outreach.

    When I made this vote, it occured to me to wonder whether there is a correlation between the amount of inreach, and losing members, particularly teens, to other churches or altogether losing them.

    I wonder how others who voted find the comparison between this and inreach/outreach rations in their congregations. Does more inreach keep more or lose more?

    Peace always,

    1. Wes,

      That is a hard question to answer. On one hand it is possible that we only look in toward ourselves that we lose sight of our mission. The result is failing to get our kids in on the mission. Then they leave because they see faith as pretty pointless. On the other hand if we don’t meet any needs at all of those in the congregation they may not grow healthy enough to stick around. I am sure the answer would be different for different congregations and how these sorts of things actually played out.

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