Leaf through the pages of the New Testament and you must conclude that we, as a Church, are to be involved in outreach ministry. How are we doing? I have seen extremes when it come to outreach ministry in the church.
At one end are churches who put little or no emphasis on reaching the lost. These churches tend to be ingrown and usually stagnant or dying.
At the other end are churches whose sole focus is geared around reaching the lost. These churches are outward focused and often seem to be growing … at least numerically.
If we obey the Greatest Commandment to love the Lord and people (Matt. 22:37-40), how can we not reach out? On the other hand, isn’t there more to being the Church than outreach. Look at the early New Testament church in Acts 2:42-47 — “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” As you continue to read, you will not find that they devoted themselves to an outreach ministry. Perhaps that is because it was a given, as they were who they were supposed to be and did what they were supposed to do, they were that salt and light. After identifying their devotion to teaching, fellowship, prayer, benevolence, and worship, the passage concludes “And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Both extremes can tend to put the spotlight on themselves, though often not intentionally or knowingly. Churches can slide into a spiritual pride.
“Look at us,” says the first church. “We know the Word and hold firm to it, not compromising or becoming like the world.”
“Look at us,” says the second church. “We are relevant and attractive to the world. We have a following.”
Perhaps if we focused more on simply putting the spotlight on HIM and not on what we do, we could avoid the dangers of such extremes. When we find ourselves talking too much about how we are this way or that way, perhaps we need to stop and gain some perspective. Is it about us, or is it about Him? Are we are trying to generate our own light rather than reflect His light? How do we engage in outreach ministry without compromising and without putting too much of the spotlight on ourselves?
In trying to come up with the cover and emphasis for the Outreach Ministry Manual, it hit me — Outreach Ministry is about turning the Spotlight on Jesus.
As His ambassadors we work in cooperation with God by showcasing Him through our lives and through our words. We can use a variety of means but the objective should always remain the same … to help others see Him better, not us. –“He (Jesus) must increase, but I must decrease” (Jn. 3:30, KJV).