Many churches believe in going out to share the gospel or otherwise reach out to people on the street, but my experience is that rarely do you find people who are motivated to go out connected with the people who are motivated help take these people all the way along the path to a strong life in Christ. We believe in this powerful combination.
Going out on the street is not an end unto itself. It has a purpose — change lives. If you are going out and talking to a lot of people and praying for a lot of people, but that is all it ever comes to, then you’ve really only done part of the job. You went fishing, but you didn’t put any fish into the boat. You passed out some business cards, or tracts, but that’s kind of a hope and a prayer. They may have an impact, and they may not.
We believe that outreach is a connected part of church ministry. Go fishing until you have enough work to keep you busy “cleaning” the fish. This means that when you go, you should be prepared to be successful. What will happen when you do meet someone who needs help? Here are four possible scenarios:
- They need a recovery program. They have been addicted to drugs and are in need of a program that will help them get sober and stay sober. Make sure you know where you would take someone like this before you go out. And don’t just take them there. Befriend them and pastor them through.
- They need a Christian environment and mentoring. Maybe they are Christian, or at least open but are hanging out with entirely the wrong set of people and are ready for a change. They need a place to go. Make sure you have a place for people like this before you go out.
- They are stable but need more of God. In this case, make sure you have a meeting you can invite them to along with instructions.
- They are in need of material help. Single mothers, for example, may not be a very good demographic to try to get to come to a home meeting, but they will readily accept some help and likely ministry if you go to them.
By accounting for who you might encounter before you go, you will be prepared to start them on the path to following Christ when you meet them. Make it hard for them to fail. Work with them at each step. That is the true pastoral heart of Christ.