5 keys to reaching out into your community
Hannan Aske shares some helpful suggestions for you and your church to reach children with the love of Christ.
Whether we are a church leader, minister, children’s or youth pastor, volunteer or a church member, we can spend a lot of time looking at different ministries totally amazed by the work they are doing and celebrating God’s goodness alongside them. However, sometimes from that there is a danger of comparison, thinking and questioning…. Why? Why doesn’t that happen/work for us? Why can’t we have that here? Why can’t our church be on board?
Although this form of questioning is sometimes healthy and good for our ministries it’s important that we remember what makes our church special, our culture, our community, our people. What works for some won’t always work for others but there is always something we can take away. This is something I discovered more about after a trip to New York and taking part in a Metro Ministries boot camp.
‘Metro ministries Boot Camp program provides an opportunity for individuals or groups to experience inner-city life in New York while ministering to the kids and community. You will live, work and learn what it takes to bring the Gospel to the city.’
This was one of the most rewarding, eye-opening, challenging trips of my life. It was so encouraging to witness the passion and love that was within every member of staff, intern and volunteer to help and spread the gospel to hurting and deprived children.
Every week was jam-packed with witnessing to thousands of children. This was done through 200 sidewalk Sunday schools, home visitations and leafletting, and finishing with Saturday Sunday School meeting with 3000 children in one day!
I came back from this trip totally amazed by what I had witnessed. Driven and excited to make more of an impact in our community. I wanted to do it all!! Obviously, this wasn’t something we could do. We live in a small seaside town based in a community church on a housing estate.
However, what we did do was look at the model they produced and took little bits from it and thought about how we could move things to the next level and reach out more into our community and the children and families in it. Starting a children’s ministry with limited resources, space, time and money was a very daunting prospect, but we did it!
One thing I knew for sure after my time in New York, it was all about getting the message and love of Jesus out to as many children as possible! Over the years we have tried, failed and succeeded in many different ventures of reaching out. So I thought I would put together some hopefully helpful suggestions for you and your Church to reach children with the love of Christ.
1. Go to them and bring them in (Matt 28:9)
Community centres are always looking for people to start up new clubs, support groups and opportunities. We had the opportunity to set up an after-school drop-in club that was great for then signposting the children and families to our church events and clubs.
2. Connect with schools
Schools are also continuously looking for volunteers and support with assemblies, lessons, supported reading, lunch groups, after-school clubs and summer fetes. Building up a relationship with the local schools will open doors, allowing for opportunities to advertise events and connect with families. Why not put together some leaflets with a colouring competition inviting the kids to come and win a big prize. Send them out in book bags, or simply stand outside the gates (with permission) connecting with parents and the children as they excitably leave school.
3. Be generous and keep on giving!
Be generous with your time, money and resources but most of all with your love. The sower didn’t sow the seed sparingly but lavishly and even wastefully in the eyes of some. (Matt 13) Although we may not always see the fruit, the reward, the growth it’s all worth it when you see the one amongst the few. Nothing is wasted when we waste our lives on Jesus and his children.
4. Do something
Something is better than nothing and we can all do something. Children love to get involved with something new, exciting and maybe sometimes even a little bit crazy! Why not start up a midweek kids club packed with energy, fun and a gospel message at the heart. You could even close Sunday morning service and give it over to the kids! This worked for us and we also had every congregation member volunteering too! Or simply get involved in community and school events offering face painting, craft activities, tattoo art or even hire/buy a bouncy castle and watch the children gather round!
5. Connect relationally
Sometimes we don’t realise how perceptive children can be. They are willing and eager to be a part of a bigger conversation, even the shy ones. During clubs and activities, there may not always be a chance to have those engaging conversations, but these can simply happen through home visits and getting out there on streets and hanging out with them. Be social, get to know them fully, get to know their families, relate and see things change!
Do you any keys to add to this list? How do you reach your community?
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