5 Tips for Relaunching Outreach Ministries
The pace of change during the pandemic has created a need for bold leadership in the church, more so than ever. To support pastors and their ministry teams to prepare for the next season of ministry, we recently hosted a series of webinars focused on relaunching three key areas of ministry—Children’s Ministry (featuring Orange Kids Specialist Missy Purcell), Worship (featuring creative arts leaders Jeff Boriss and Eric Bramlett), and Community Outreach (featuring Jeff Frazier, lead pastor at Chapelstreet Church in Geneva, IL, and Aspen’s Ministry Space Strategist, Greg Snider.)
In our webinar on community outreach, Jeff Frazier and Greg Snider discussed opportunities and challenges churches are facing in serving their communities during the pandemic.
Chapelstreet Church, a multisite, suburban Illinois church, is known as being a church that’s in and for the community. Their South Street campus houses a newly expanded food pantry called Shepherd's Heart, which provides a dignified way for residents to get groceries and provisions to sustain themselves.
The need for this food pantry has increased throughout the pandemic, but because of COVID-19, they've adapted their services and provided food via a drive-thru distribution process in their church parking lot.
Greg has long been a champion of helping churches create ministry space for community impact. He has helped many churches develop a facility strategy with community outreach in mind.
Here are five key takeaways from my conversation with Jeff and Greg from our webinar, “Relaunching Outreach Ministry”:
1. Look to Your People for Ministry Opportunity
"The best ideas for compassion and ministry come from the people in my church, they're not coming from me locked away in a board room," says Jeff. "They're from people with a heart for certain ministries that align with our church's mission and vision."
2. Champion the Cause
It's the pastor's job to champion the ministries within their church and to share the stories of community impact to help rally support from the congregation.
3. Make Your Ministries Front and Center
Greg spoke on how important it is to develop your facilities so your congregation can see your ministries front and center. Don't be nervous about putting your food pantry right inside the front door!
4. Develop the Right Relationships
Develop relationships with civic groups and help them understand that the church is there to support the community. These are groups such as the mayor’s office or chamber of commerce. According to Greg, “Churches that are striving to gain influence in their communities start by cultivating relationships with those who are shaping daily life. They get to know their mayors, school principals and superintendents, business leaders, and other community leaders.”
5. Stay Creative
Especially in this season, encourage your compassion ministry leaders to stay creative as they serve the people in your community. “A community can tell what a church values most by what it invests in,” says Greg.
What do your church’s activities and events tell your community? Do they see you investing time and resources in the betterment of your community, or are you more internally focused?
Do you invest in raising up leaders and volunteers specifically dedicated to community outreach? How much of your time is spent on creating a Sunday morning experience compared to a seven-day-a-week involvement in the neighborhood?
One simple way to measure the impact you’re having on your community is to ask, if our church went away, would the community or neighborhood care?
If your answer to the question above was yes, then your church is likely on its way to regaining influence within the community. If no one would notice, or worse, if they’d breathe a sigh of relief if you were gone, then you may have some work to do to build a positive relationship between your church and the community so that you can make an impact in your community.