I asked my friend Philip Cunningham for some feedback and what questions he had so far about our “Church Steps” Outreach we have started at Northwest. Here are Philip’s questions and my answers:
Philip: What is the age range of your outreach group? Also- the median age?
Our ministry is representative of the congregation. The main Wednesday night adult classes goes from 20-70. Our youth group is starting to do this as part of their ministry on a regular basis as well, reaching specifically to teens. Our 20s & 30s ministry will likely be doing this once a month (here is the class outline & template I am talking about here). So our whole church is covered and it is done by all ages teen and up.
Philip: Is this just a group to coordinate outreach prospects? Or does the group also do outreach together? Like, say, going to a mall. Or other similar outdoor shopping center where people gather.
The group coordinates prospects and then prays for those people and sends people out with assignments. The assignments that are given depend on the situation of the person (referring back to the five steps a person typically falls into and the needs they have within that step that the “assignments” are aimed at meeting). Typical assignments varying go like this:
- Step 1 (attract) that means they haven’t ever been to anything so our goal is to be invitational. That means we will call them and write them to invite them to a LIFE Group and the next worship service.
- Step 2 (Welcome – that means they have visited) our goal is to let them know how appreciative we are that they came and to try to get to know them – catch them the next Sunday, invite them to lunch, get them in a LIFE Group. We assign people to call them and write them (thanks for coming – especially for 1st time visitors).
- Step 3 (Relationship) – Our goal here is to really get people in their life that they can connect with. This can come through LIFE group, Sunday class, Softball, or via other ministries. One of my goals is to have a representative from each life group in the Church Steps class every week to help coordinate getting the groups in on this process.
- Step 4 (Transformation) – Once they know some people we are going to ask them if they would like to have a Bible study (typically using Jesus 101).
- Step 5 (Integration) – Once someone is baptized our goal is to get them active in ministry. One of our goals is to have them come and work this process for new people/non-Christians themselves alongside a more experienced Christian.
- Last, every week a prayer list is given out that lists every person who we are reaching to that week so that everything we are doing has prayer all over it (God is the one who gives the harvest – we emphasize that all the time). So everyone gets something to do because everyone who comes is praying about this – also part of the culture change…hard to keep praying for something and it not do something to you/motivate you to work at it yourself).
Philip: Does the fact that there’s an “outreach group” engender any sort of resentment toward those who are NOT in the group? Or maybe once were but are no longer? As in- “we’re pulling the weight here & the other folks aren’t sharing their faith” kind of sentiment.
That is a very insightful question because that is the tendency of these sorts of efforts. The problem is, once you really buy in, it is tempting to get an us vs. them mentality (those who “get it” and the rest of the church that doesn’t seem to want to participate). The reason it happens is because once it is a no brainer to you and you start trying to get more Christians in the class and they don’t want to come it is easy to think we get it and they don’t. I caught onto this about a month in when I started to hear that attitude reflected to a small degree in my own teaching. I had to check myself and my attitudes and be very, very careful about that and graceful to the rest of the church. So I started teaching against that mentality and it continues to be something we are very careful about.
There is one main teaching point that I have used to combat that attitude. It is the guiding principle that no matter how much work we do, God is really the one who brings the growth and success, so let’s not think we are “all that” because it is all dependent on God, not on us. God can do it without us if He likes.
I would like to hear questions from some of you who have been following the updates on this ministry (or maybe just read the summary post yesterday and have questions about it).