Remember back in the day when churches had weekly visitation programs? A group of church members would show up at church one night a week and make personal home visits. Evangelism Explosion, Continuous Witness Training, and FAITH were developed as a means of training church members with a Gospel presentation as part of the weekly outreach ministry. Over time, enthusiasm for weekly outreach has waned. Weekly outreach is definitely not as prevalent as it once was. But prevalence is not really the issue when it comes to a weekly outreach ministry. Effectiveness is the issue.
Why has weekly outreach waned? I believe there are a number of reasons, but from my perspective here are the five main reasons behind the decline of weekly outreach:
- Time. Actually we used to have 24 hours in a single day 20 years ago. All of the technology that we have today is supposed to help us have “more” time. In actuality, technology has created multitasking and now we are more hurried than ever before.
- Family. Our children are more involved in school activities, athletics, music, and a host of other things than they used to be. As a kid, I was involved in all three of the activities mentioned. But I only did one activity at a time (school and music I suffered through). Today’s kids and families are involved in many activities at once.
- Church activities. The “service” culture at the local church has impacted the time and commitment members have to weekly outreach. The ministries and activities of the church compete for time on the calendar and for dollars in the budget. Outreach gets squeezed off the calendar by other ministries.
- Church models. Many if not most of the churches today that are growing at a rapid pace do not have weekly outreach. What most of these churches do have is an incredibly dynamic preacher and outstanding publicity.
- Enthusiasm. When it comes right down to it, weekly outreach is work. Even tougher, it is work that takes place behind the scenes. When enthusiasm for weekly outreach is low, participation is low. As participation drops so does enthusiasm.
You are in trouble when the people that attend your church’s outreach ministry are more concerned about lack of participation by church members than their concern for the lost and unchurched.
So what do you do? This past year I had the privilege of serving First Baptist Church of Edmond, Oklahoma as their interim Education Minister. It was a tremendous experience. Pastor Blake Gideon asked me to develop an outreach program for the church.
Want to know what we did? This link provides some information about our outreach ministry and shares some of the results.