Anxious faces. Defeated plans. Frustration. Losing heart. Is this what we signed up for when we joined the Missions and Outreach Committee at church? We wanted to be part of spurring our church on. Encouraging them to love and good deeds. We tried to fulfill our mandate, and we thought we had people on our side, but in the end everything we tried failed. What’s wrong with our church? What else can we do? We think we might tell the council it’s time to fold the committee.

In my role as a Global Connections Local Mission Leader for Resonate Global Mission, I have the great privilege of meeting with several church mission and outreach committees in my region. Initially, I am invited to come and talk about how things are going in their relationship with the Resonate missionaries they support and how Resonate can come alongside them as they work out their calling to share the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth.

But I often find myself listening to the pain and struggle of what it means to share that same good news locally. How to inspire the congregation to engage the community.

Is this your church? Is this your outreach committee? Don’t despair! While I cannot promise that Resonate has a wonderful, simple-to-implement solution that will solve all your local outreach needs and bring everyone in your congregation on board, I can tell you a few things I have learned as I have listened and prayed with others in your same situation.

You are not alone.
Churches across our denomination, big and small, urban and rural, struggle with what it means to “reach out” to the community. Is this a call to good deeds? Is it a call to preach the gospel to the unbelieving? How do we motivate our members?

Let me encourage you to continue to struggle! This is a good struggle, not a bad struggle. Continue to ask those questions and then listen for the answers. Wait on God in prayer. Don’t give up because…

Christ is already at work building his church and he has called us to be co-laborers.
This is a great encouragement! We don’t have to come up with a show-stopping plan because Jesus already has one. We don’t have to wait until we have “just right” leaders in place or until we have attained a certain level of knowledge in order to be his co-laborers because God equips his church. Pray about what outreach looks like for your church. Ask him to show you. Ask him to give the gifts you need. Ask him to give you the courage to act in faith. 

Look to see how the Holy Spirit is already leading your congregation.
Rather than feeling frustrated when you can’t find volunteers for an initiative, be encouraged by how volunteers are already engaged.

Do you have a robust GEMS and Cadets program? Vacation Bible School? Coffee Break? Thriving small groups? Ask how your outreach committee can join in what is already happening. Programs like these not only have the opportunity to reach the community too, but they also have dedicated volunteers who may want to explore outreach opportunities or even have ideas about this but don’t have the capacity on top of running the program. How can the outreach committee help?

Or perhaps you have people in your church who are already engaged in community ministries outside your church—food kitchens, activities with seniors, housing advocacy, youth drop-in centers. How can the outreach committee be an encouragement? How can we help the church celebrate these good gifts God is already giving? How will this, in turn, spur us on?

Connect with us.
Finally, Resonate is here to walk with you, to struggle with you, to listen with you, and to celebrate with you. Your regional leaders and local mission leaders would love to meet with you, hear about the ups and downs, pray with you, and encourage you.

And yes, we do also have an initiative you can join that is specifically designed to help your church discern where God is at work in your community so you can join him. Go Local is a way for churches to share this journey together with other nearby congregations and to learn from each other. If this is something you are interested in exploring, just let us know!

May God bless you all as you serve him.
 

Written by Gillian Bruce, Resonate’s Global Connections Local Mission Leader in Eastern Canada. Want to connect with Gillian about mission in your church? Email her at gbruce@crcna.org.