Evangelism is never easy for churches. This week’s Church Leader Insights may help you with outreach events.
Large outreach events in U.S. churches seem to be status quo. Nearly every church I know, regardless of size, has big events throughout the year…Christmas musicals, special Easter services, VBS for the community, and so on. But, how effective are they?
With so many events, and with so many resources being utilized, do churches experience an appropriate return on investment? Are more unchurched folks loving God and others as a result? Are more people becoming Christ followers and fully devoted disciples engaged in the local church? Both research and my own experience suggests “no.” Although there are many reasons why I dislike outreach events, here are the top seven mistakes I see churches make concerning outreach events:
Mistake number one: Churches make outreach events an “end unto themselves”
“Let’s provide bags of groceries for 100 families!” “Let’s put on the biggest and best Christmas drama ever!” These goals are inspirational. The problem, however, is that we often do big events and don’t ask the “why” question. Why are we doing this? What goal do we have? More and more, volunteers will not serve at an outreach event unless they have a clear vision behind the “why” question.
Mistake number two: Outreach events can create a consumer culture
“The church had a Back to School outreach event…why can’t we put on an event for ‘X’?” The more outreach events a church puts on, the more folks will come forward to request that their own project be promoted through the church body.
Church multi-site communications can present a unique set of problems. For starters, every campus will share some of the main campus’s DNA in terms of branding, website, and central resources (i.e. financial and membership resources).
Yet, tugging at the heart of each campus is the desire to make itself unique. Every campus wants to figure what makes them different from all the other campuses. Is it the location? The building? Style of worship?
These are the type of questions that can keep a communications team up at night. With every little difference of a campus, you find something doesn’t scale (i.e. every campus has their own bulletin). And when things aren’t scaling, serving every campus equally can be near impossible.
So how do you rectify this problem? How do you get control of the situation and get a sense how to best serve all your campuses? Well, I think it can be done, and it starts with asking this question:
Luke 1:1-4. Everybody’s got an angle. People who tell you what theirs is upfront are usually more trustworthy. Luke thought Jesus was the Son of God and that he came back from the dead after he was crucified for the sins of all humankind.
I know. It’s a lot to take in.
You may or may not agree with Luke’s assessment, but it only makes sense that if he really believed those things, he’d write it down and make sure that story got in front of as many people as possible. Which is exactly what he did. And he was also kind enough to tell us exactly what he was going for with the whole deal in the first four verses.
The statement came from a pastor, but he only made it half-jokingly: “The greatest gift you could give me is more time.”
Of course, he didn’t think I could create days with more than 24-hours. Still, he was busy, over-committed, and worn out. He wondered if I had any suggestions. And, he is not alone.
What if I told you I could help you get 10 or more hours of your week back? That’s like having an extra three weeks a year.
In order to make this quest a reality, let’s look at some of the greatest “time drainers” of pastors and staff—as well as suggestions for improving each situation.
1. Regularly scheduled meetings.How many hours do you spend in meetings you feel obligated to attend? Probably a lot.
Solution: Ruthlessly evaluate all mandatory meetings. You can probably eliminate two or more. And never add a regularly scheduled meeting without eliminating another.
2. Add-on meetings.“Pastor, can we get together this week to talk about something?” How many times have you received similar requests? Think of the time expended scheduling the meeting, attending, and possibly following up.
Solution: Say no. Tell the person you will talk about it right then. The conversation will likely be shorter than five minutes.
3. Non-productive meetings.Have you ever ended a meeting thinking it was a total waste of time? Perhaps most of the meeting wasa waste of time.
Solution: Never go into a meeting without a clear and specific agenda. Also, have a definitive ending time and don’t go one minute beyond.
Betrayal by those closest to us is the hardest to overcome.
All betrayal is painful, but when it comes from those we know (and who know us) most intimately, and whom we trust the most, it can be particularly shattering. It is right, healthy, and normal to feel the weight of this sorrow and to take your time to process all that has happened to you.
It is possible, however, over time, and with help, to overcome the broken trust and renew a healthy relationship. The key to rebuilding trust is to give it in stages.
The process of restoring trust to a broken marriage begins with repentance and evident fruit. Spouses who have had their relationships damaged by adultery should not be asked to simply accept the offending spouses remorse.
Time is needed both to grieve what has happened and to look for genuine fruit of repentance. A spouse who is cold and defensive, who makes excuses or justifications for their failure is not evidencing fruit of repentance.
A spouse who simply wants to “get past this” and who confesses sin in order to not have to talk about it anymore is not evidencing repentance. A spouse who remains private, distant, or secretive is not evidencing sensitivity to the damage they have done and is likely not repentant.
The offended spouse should continue to look for repentance, but trust must be earned over time. It is not simply restored because the sinning party confessed and said they were sorry.
Should real repentance begin to evidence itself, however, trust can begin to slowly rebuild. It will rebuild in stages: mediated trust, validated trust, functional trust, factual trust, and emotional trust.
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