Theory is good, practice is better.
One way I attempt to move the outward-focused value from theory into practice church wide is to create small, or large, safe on-ramps into the arena of outreach.
I’ve discovered people participate at different comfort levels.
For example, each week we pack groceries that will be used for our weekend outreach and for our food pantry. Some people enjoy donating food, others have the gift of giving so give cash, others like being behind the scenes and show up to organize the food for the packers, or the food pantry. Others enjoy the intense activity of packing the food and others like going, serving and praying for the people.
I see this process repeated often. People are doing their part, in their way, to ensure the community is being reached and cared for. My job is to create church wide doable opportunities.
Last, month we developed a buzz to move us forward toward our summer water outreach to our community. We purchased different well known full sized characters. We placed them in different locations in our building encouraging people to drop off cases of water. Each week we also moved the characters to different drop off locations to keep things interesting.
It was fun to see people taking pictures of their kids with Buzz and Mater. Teens taking pictures of each other with Justin, Hulk, and Ironman.
People gave at their level. One guy dropped off 35 cases of water. Others brought one or two, some just gave cash. The water piles continued to mount up until we had gathered 7,000 bottles of water. One of my friends came to our Saturday service just to drop off his case of water before he left that evening for his vacation. Many people spent hours sticking labels on the water. A few people helped load the truck, pack the barrels and a holding bin with water bottles and 80 large bags of ice.
During the 4th of July weekend we celebrated the success during the services. People joined together in small teams to reach 5,000 people at three different community firework shows.
That’s how most of our outreach events happen. The challenge is then to nurture peoples faith level. We attempt to this by: offering training opportunities, offering consistent monthly / weekly outreach opportunities, having people tell their story during our weekend services to inspire and motivate others, mentioning God space stories during messages, communicating through e-news letters, communicating through face book and blogs, and having a fun staff outreach when there is a 5th Wednesday.
Keeping the value before the people is extremely important. It is hard, almost impossible to do if the Great Commission is not one of your key values of focus. The natural tendency of the human heart is to turn inward. The natural tendency of the heart of a church is also to turn inward. An outward focused leaders role is to continually create an outward focused environment and create many on-ramps out into the community.