How to Start a Church Outreach Ministry
One of the most important jobs we have as leaders in the church is to reach out to others and help them live better lives. This is not just physically, but also striving to help them better themselves spiritually. We’re told to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” in Mark 16:15. That means a church outreach ministry is vital.
But how easy is it to start a church outreach ministry? And what should you consider before venturing into a new one? Here is a basic outline that many churches and leaders have found helpful when starting an outreach ministry.
Have a Clear Vision
The Bible also says, “Without a vision, the people perish.” You need to have the end goal in mind, know exactly what goals you want to reach, and formulate a step-by-step plan for getting there. Of course, you will need to tweak your strategy along the way, but having a vision for your church’s future and a basic plan in mind is essential.
When looking for pastors or leaders to help you plan, try to hire folks who are focused and have some experience leading church communities. Besides physical skills, they will need to have good people skills as well. That includes great communication, knowing how to reach different people on every level of society, and having a real heart for helping others lead better lives.
Pray for Guidance with a Church Outreach Ministry
Many churches and pastors start with good ideas but fail to think and pray things through properly. If you try to do everything in “the arm of the flesh,” your efforts could lead to frustration, and missed opportunities. Instead, seek to leave yourself open to a good amount of spiritual guidance, staying mindful and prayerful about the decisions you make as church leaders.
A good rule to go by is to dwell in a state of prayer and constant spiritual awareness when beginning any kind of church outreach activity or program. Staying in this heightened state of awareness will help you keep in mind the bigger perspective, and not get discouraged when things seen to go wrong.
Decide on the Most Important Ministry
You may get lots of ideas for church outreach. How do you choose which one will be the best use of your time? This all depends on your church goals. But if you are looking for long-term success, then your team must commit to an outreach project you know will have long-term effects and a farther reach.
This could mean planning to spend longer on one project and not just doing a one-day outreach activity. If so, consider all your church’s capabilities, the time involved, and the labor necessary to achieve your goals.
Determine the Church Outreach Ministry Budget
You may need a small amount of funds or a whole lot more to achieve your outreach goals. Whatever the case, make sure you are able to outline the needs realistically, listing them all in an itemized budget plan.
When you know the exact amount that you need to fundraise, it will be easier to approach potential donors and sponsors of your mission projects. Have faith that as you set the goals and pray for miracles, the donors who want to help your mission succeed will show up. The volunteers will show up. The work will be done. Remember, if your need is great, the answer will be, too.
Have a Communication Plan
No matter your chosen type of community outreach project, a communication plan is essential. This should ideally be a communication system that you can use a digital platform for, so that everyone involved will be on the same page. This could also be a group chat app, such as WhatsApp, or a social page where you share updates with all the volunteers involved.
Whatever you choose, ensure that the communication system does not have any security breaches, does not put your donors’ data at risk, and remains strictly for professional communication. Just as your donors respect your church, so should you respect their private details and keep communications in a secure system. Trust is essential in a church outreach ministry.
Plan Logistics with Your Church Outreach Managers
Different volunteers will have different roles to play in your church outreach. Here are a few to keep in mind when assigning tasks:
- Logistics – scheduling, etc.
- Childcare – whether children in the community project or the children of donors and other volunteers.
- Communication – relaying messages in different languages, translations, etc.
- Medical aid – (If you have an outreach in a physically dangerous area, such as a disaster relief zone, always identify which medical professionals will handle which tasks.)
- Spiritual coaching – during your church outreach, some of your members and donors may come to you for spiritual guidance. Always ensure there is an experienced leader to communicate with them, and have adequate time to listen and/or pray with them.
- Media communication – if your event is publicized in local or international media, you will need to assign specific people to handle press conferences and public inquiries and/or conduct interviews.
- Documentation – often what gets lost in the outreach efforts is a way to document your event. This is essential for future newsletters and fundraising material, and for updating your church members and sponsors. If possible, have a professional photographer with you to capture these special moments.
- Follow-up – after the event, assign certain volunteers to do the work of follow-up. Make sure that you leave the project in good hands, and that somebody updates the donors on the project progress and creates follow-up material such as blogs, newsletters, and digital updates for everyone involved.
How Do You Gauge the Success of an Outreach Ministry?
The success of your church outreach event may be determined in different ways. This all depends on your goals as a church. If you have a fundraising goal, this could be easier to gauge.
But what about an outreach in a depressed area of the city? A medical mission? A disaster relief outreach?
Often, we don’t see “immediate” results. Just knowing that we were there in the right time and place to serve others is enough motivation.
But for your donors and sponsors, statistics could help. In your follow-up newsletter, online blog, and updates, always include statistics such as the number of:
- People helped/fed.
- Volunteers engaged.
- Lives bettered during the event.
- New visitors to the church.
- Church members who gave to the mission.
Then, there are also the digital statistics to note:
- Clicks on website.
- Engagement through your online interactions.
- Number of shares.
- Funds raised with online resources.
Between the physical and digital statistics, you can have a well-rounded idea of the effects your ministry is having. Tracking data also encourages volunteers and sponsors to keep connected through your outreach missions, as they can visualize the current results and stay engaged.
If you enjoyed these ideas for starting a church outreach ministry, be sure to read our other tips for modern-day churches. For blogs on fundraising, growing donors, and leading thriving outreach missions, visit our DonorWerx website and read the latest on church trends and digital giving.
A Word from the Lord
“For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you.” (1 Corinthians 9:19).
Jesus had the most effective church outreach ministry in history, so we should strive to be like Him.