Outreach can be a confusing term. For different people it brings up different images. Some imagine passing out gospel tracts or going door to door. Others might picture mowing yards for the elderly or food pantries. So it begs the question, ‘what is outreach’? Simply stated, it’s reaching out. When Jesus left this earth he gave us a commission: “Go into all the world, and preach the gospel to all creation.” Notice he said “go.” Too often today the church waits from broken and lost people to walk in their doors before reaching out to them. I would argue, however, that Jesus intended for us to go out and bring them in. That’s how I view outreach.
If we take time out of our busy days to notice people around us, we’d be surprised at the number of lost and broken we interact with each day. Outreach doesn’t have to be complicated. It doesn’t have to be well thought out or organized. Outreach is relationships. It’s being good neighbors to those you think don’t deserve it. At LCF, we’ve aimed to build an outreach program close to the heart of Jesus. We want to build relationships with the lost and broken in our community.
Currently we are focusing on the small community of Fox Meadow. This is the local subsidized housing in Lebanon, home to around 200 people. It’s been over six months since we first began our relationship with Fox Meadow. In November of 2016 we held a fall festival on site. The first 45 minutes people stood on their front patios watching from afar. It was clear they were suspicious of us, but as time went on people came closer. Soon we had nearly 50 residents and kids enjoying hot dogs, corn hole, and inflatables with us. God was beginning to stir something in this community.
Since then we’ve held a Valentine’s dinner, put on an Easter event for the kids, and hosted a Women’s night. We’ve also attended a concerned tenant meeting every month with the residents. It’s been a slow process of building trust and forming relationships, but with each event more and more people come. Each visit I have deeper conversations and more gospel opportunities. We’ve had some of the first Fox Meadow residents attend our church, and one of them accepted Christ and was baptized!
I imagine this is what Jesus meant when he said ‘go.’ We must go to our neighbors, to our coworkers. We must go out of our way to serve and to love. We must build relationships with the lost and the broken because we were once like them. Now we have found a great treasure in Christ, and we must share it with the world and with Lebanon.
Gabby Range is the Local Outreach Director at LCF Church. She can be contacted by emailing her at email@example.com