Evangelism. That one simple word can send shivers down the spine of many Christian’s. That one simple word can conjure up memories of awkward conversations and angry interactions. And yet that one simple word also encapsulates the mission to which God has called us to be busy with in His world. Call it what you will—evangelism, outreach, mission, sharing the gospel—the goal is the same: to reach people far from God with the great news of God’s salvation in Jesus Christ.
Recently, as many of you would know, I attended the ‘Scatter: Organic Outreach Conference’ in Monterey, California. The 3-day conference was hosted by Shoreline Community Church, led by Kevin Harney, and included a great line-up of speakers and breakout sessions on a number of helpful topics. In addition, for the 2 days prior to the conference I attended Intensive Training around how to imbed outreach into the life of a local church. Though I learned a number of key insights that will be fermenting in my heart and mind for a while yet, let me take a moment to share with you some of the key lessons I took away from my time at Organic Outreach.
Outreach must be motivated by love
Many motivations may move us to reach out to others—duty, guilt, even a false sense of superiority—but only one motivation will truly compel and sustain us: love. Specifically, love for God, love for the church, and love for people. Effective outreach originates in the love of God, which then flows outward into love for others.
Outreach is broader than we think
When we think of evangelism or outreach we tend to think merely of the exhortation and explanation of biblical truth. Though this is undoubtedly an important part of outreach, it is not the entire package. Effective outreach also includes prayer, loving people, serving in our community, being models of Christ’s grace, building authentic friendships with those who are far from God, and telling our stories of God’s presence and power.
Outreach requires effort and intentionality
We—both individually and corporately—will not drift towards outreach. If we don’t actually plan and think intentionally about how we’re going to engage in outreach, we simply won’t do it. In fact, if we get serious about outreach it is going to cost us time, money, effort, and comfortability, but it will be completely worth it as we see more and more people move from death to life; from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of God.
Outreach is for all of us
As Kevin Harney writes in his book, Organic Outreach for Ordinary People, “Outreach is not reserved for the super-spiritual, the velvet-tongued, and the hyper-extroverted. It’s for everyone. We are all called to let the light of Jesus shine in this dark world. Jesus is the living water, and you and I are called to let people know that the soul-quenching refreshment they long for can be found in him alone.”
So, let’s all commit to pray and ask the Lord to use us wherever he has placed us for the good of others, the advance of his kingdom, and the glory of his name.
Grace & peace,