Community Group Outreach

The idea of Christian outreach can be really intimidating to people, for a number of reasons. This can run from feelings of inadequacy, to fear of rejection, to an introverted personality, or to simple apathy. Most of these are particularly acute when faced with the prospect of one-on-one encounters with people. While we should all seek to be winsome, competent ambassadors of the gospel at any moment (see 1 Pet. 3:15), the good news is that not all outreach is done at an individual level. I have a little saying that I use from time-to-time: "It's always better to go swimming with a buddy." The point is pretty obvious; there is safety in numbers. (A fine Presbyterian sentiment, if I might add.)

At Stone's Throw, there are two general "organizational" levels of outreach that we do; church-wide and community group. Church-wide efforts are usually top-down, "large machinery" events meant to serve a wide need or promote a broad objective, and they require a lot of planning and resources. Community group efforts are much more surgical; they can be more reactive, generally require fewer resources, and are more localized in scope. They are easy ways to share and show the love of Christ to our neighbors. AND they may help nudge into action the Christian who is struggling with the concept of "outreach." Here are a few ideas to help you get moving:

Focus on where your group regularly gathers. Just as Stone's Throw corporately wants to serve those in the MOT area, it's okay for your group to focus on the town or neighborhood you're meeting in.

Do not reinvent the wheel. Find local Christian ministries in your group's area that your members can easily interface with.

Every once in a while, have your group (in small teams) walk through your area and pray for it. Not only might you meet some local residents, but prayer is essential in having an effective outreach ministry.

Contact your local municipal office or HOA (if you have contact info) to let them know that you have people that can help serve as community needs arise.

Check out other local non-profits, or even local schools, to see if there are any available opportunities to help serve.

If you meet in a community, host block parties once in a while. It could be just as simple as inviting immediate neighbors to a backyard cookout when your group has them.

Go Christmas caroling!

Bonus tip: Not every community group member needs to be involved with every event. Maybe your group adopts a few different smaller things to get involved with. The point is to try to ignite the gifts and interests God has given each of you.

Healthy outreach should encompass both word and deed. Wisdom is needed on when to apply each, but what a great benefit it is for the saints to be able to work together in the context of a community group to figure it out (Prov. 15:22; see also James 1:5).

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