Thursday, February 3, 2011

Outreach! Children and Families Reaching Out in Tangible Ways . . . and more!

All this week I've been talking about outreach - re-focusing ministries you are already committed to so they are more effective in reaching out to the children and families in your church and community such as Sunday school, VBS and mid-week ministries as well as planning special outreach events. These types of outreach primarily function as opportunities planned and implemented by the church. Today I want to consider outreach with the goal of giving the children and families of your church the vision and opportunity for them to reach out to others in your church, community and world.

Again, before you begin this type of outreach you need to know what your vision, passion, plan and purpose are for implementing it? What is your church already doing to reach out to your community and world? Do you have a food pantry or participate in a community pantry? Are you already involved in a local shelter? Do you involve the people of your church in clothing drives? Do you participate in a program providing lunches for community children during the summer? Are there any ministries where your church regularly involves children and families in serving others such as Operation Christmas Child or Angel Tree? Most VBS resources include a service component, but does the regular curriculum you utilize also involve the children in your ministry in "Putting Feet to Their Faith"? Determining the answers to these questions will help you know what you are already doing and give you an idea of the "direction" to go.

Once you know what you are already doing it is time to consider who is reaching out in these tangible ways to your community and world and how to involve more children and families in doing so. Is the outreach primarily the work of one class/volunteer? If so, hold them up in front of your church and challenge other classes/volunteers/families to join in and multiply your outreach to your community and world. Share the vision and the results of all current outreach with the children and families in your church so they can "catch" the vision and have a "heart" for serving others. Make use of your foyer - hang posters showing the project your children and families are working on, set up a table with a display, designate a specific "corner" as a "drop-off" location for food, clothing, medical supplies, toys and even money so everyone can see as children and families collect things for others in their community and world. Plan to focus your church services on reaching out to and serving others and challenge the people to join in! Jesus said in John 13:35, "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” When we reach out and serve others they will see our love and will be able to believe Jesus loves them too!

Outreach is a part of what we do in children's ministry, but when we are able to pass our vision, passion and plan to the people in our church for reaching out to people in our communities and world outreach will also become part of what they do as well! (Check my "Put Feet to Their Faith" tab for additional ideas on how to involve the children - and families - in your church in serving others.)

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