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Outreach: A Ministry or a Lifestyle?

A Sequel to Gospel of Convenience

By: Bodť Adeboyejo

 A few months ago, I wrote an article entitled Gospel of Convenience.  In the article, I asked the question, ďWhy is it that itís the cults (the Jehovah's Witnesses, the Mormons, etc.) that are out in the streets witnessing and not the Christians?Ē  ďWhy is it that itís those who donít have the truth that are not ashamed to share the lie, while we (the Christians) are ashamed to share the truth?Ē   

I wrote that the reason most Christians donít do outreach or verbally witness is because most churches donít see the importance of sharing the good news of Jesus Christ, and as such donít teach their congregations.  Rather than teach their congregations how to seek and save the Lost, most churches would rather teach on what their congregations can get from God.  For most churches, itís easier to teach the people to give towards outreach or mission than to teach them to be the missionaries.   

But then there are some churches that know (or at least are realizing) the importance of verbal witnessing or doing outreach, and are teaching their congregations the same, but the congregations are slow in responding to the call.  

So, in this article, Iíll share with you, some of the reasons why most Christians donít do outreach, why we should do outreach, how to do outreach and where to do outreach. 

What is Outreach?

Outreach, in the context of this writing, is verbally sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with non-believers (i.e. verbal witnessing), to win souls for Christ. 

Why Christians Donít Do Outreach

Besides, fear, intimidation and being ashamed of the Gospel, I identified 3 other reasons why we Christians donít do outreach:   

  1. Misunderstanding the Ministry of Reconciliation:  Even though most Christians have read 2 Corinthians 5:18-20 a zillion times very few really understand it. Because if we do, outreach will be automatic to us, and we would not need anybody to beat us over the head to do it.  In 2 Corinthians 5:18-20, apostle Paul talks about how God through Jesus Christ has reconciled us to Himself, and as such given us the ministry of reconciliation that we may reconcile others to God through Christ. 

Understanding the ministry of reconciliation is understanding why God sent Jesus to save us, and how we in turn have to help others to be reconciled to Him by sharing the good news of Christ with them.   

Hereís a story to help you understand this ministry of reconciliation we have been givenÖ

In some poor remote villages in Africa, itís not unusual for a community to come together to send an academically brilliant student to college, when the studentís parents canít afford it.  The story was told of a young man sponsored to college by a community, hoping that when he graduated from college, he would in turn do the same for a less fortunate student.  But this young man, upon graduating from college, got a job and moved to the city, forgot about his people, and forgot to do for others what was done for him. 

God sent Jesus, His only begotten Son, to die for the sins of the world, and reconcile us who were dead in trespasses to the Father, and then told us to reconcile others to Himself, by going into the entire world and preaching the gospel to every creature in every nation.  But like the young man in the story, most of us Christians fail to do for others what was done to us.   

  1. Seeing Outreach as a Ministry Not a Lifestyle:  Another reason most Christians donít do outreach is because we think that outreach is a ministry.  That is, a ministry within a local church.  And as a result, we think itís for certain kinds of people with certain kinds of gifts Ė especially those with the gift of evangelism.

Now, even though outreach may be one of the ministries within a local church, does not mean that it is a ministry for certain kinds of people with certain kinds of gifts.  Outreach is for every believer.  Outreach is a lifestyle not a ministry!   

When we see outreach as a ministry and not a lifestyle, we will only do outreach because we are members of the ministry, and only when the ministry is out in the streets witnessing.  When we see outreach as a ministry and not a lifestyle, we may even stop verbal witnessing when we leave the ministry to join another ministry. 

On the other hand, if we see outreach as a lifestyle, i.e. what Jesus required of us, and what we should spend the rest of our Christian lives doing, then it doesnít matter whether we are a part of the ministry or not, itís something weíll do at every opportunity the Lord presents to us, and there are too many of those.  Weíll come to that later. 

  1. The Ease of Lifestyle Witnessing:  Also, we Christians donít witness verbally because we are more comfortable witnessing with just our lifestyle than witnessing with our mouths.  By lifestyle witnessing, I mean just living holy and trying to be the examples to others, hoping that our families, friends and co-workers come to know the Lord.  We are comfortable with lifestyle witnessing because itís easier than standing at street corners sharing the gospel.  Itís easier than standing on the Metro or at the shopping mall, apartment buildings, etc. sharing with strangers, Godís plan for salvation.

Now, donít get me wrong.  We ought to witness with our lifestyles. We ought to let our light so shine that others may see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven.  But itís not enough.  We have to back it up with verbal witnessing.  We have to get out of our cozy shell and go out and win souls for Christ.  Ask yourself, how many people have come to know the Lord, just by watching your lifestyle without you having to say something? 

Besides, if anyone qualifies to witness with his or her lifestyle alone without verbal witnessing, it will be Jesus Christ Ė the perfect One.  Yet, He did not leave it to just lifestyle witnessing, rather He taught the people and shared the gospel with them.  Neither did He tell His disciples to just witness with their lifestyle, but charged them to ďGo into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.Ē (Mark 16:15)  If souls are going to come to the Lord, we are going to have to open our mouths and witness. 

I can hear you say, ďOh no, thatís not for me.  Iím a shy person.  Iím not an outgoing person.  Iím not comfortable with witnessing on the streets.Ē  Guess what?  Do you think that Jesus was comfortable hanging on the Cross?  Did it look like He was laughing when they pierced His sides?  No!  Yet he endured the pain for you and I, so that we might be made the righteousness of God.  So, weíll have to get out of our comfort zone and go out there and witness.                                  

Just in case you forget, the only thing we can do that matters or have eternal value is seeking and saving the Lost.  God is not impressed that we sing in the choir or play an instrument, on the usher board or the trustee board, in 3 or 4 ministries.  He didnít save us for that.  He reconciled us to Himself, so that we might reconcile others to Him.

Who Should Witness?

All believers, with all functional gifts, with all personality traits Ė shy, timid, bold, outgoing, reserved or indifferent. 

Most Christians wonder around searching all their lives for purpose, beseeching God with questions like, ďLord, why am I here?Ē ďWhat would you have me to do?Ē  Well, do I have news for you?  Heís already given all of us purpose -- to seek and save the Lost!   

How to Witness?

By sharing the simple and good news of Jesus Christ with everyone.  By telling them who Jesus is, what He did for them and why He did it, why they need Him, and how they can have Him.  Itís nothing grandiose.  Itís nothing deep.  The gospel is simple. 

Where to Witness?

Several opportunities abound for us to witness.  In fact, we have more witnessing opportunities than we know what to do with them.  Because witnessing is a lifestyle and not a ministry, it means we can and should witness everywhere we go.  In our sphere of influence: among our friends and relatives, at work, on the streets, at the mall, on the subway, in taxis, etc.   

Instead of crossing to the other side of the street when you see a homeless person approaching you, stay and witness to him or her.  Instead of hanging up the phone on the telemarketer, stay and share the good news of Christ with the person.  Instead of just saying, ďHow are you?Ē to the mail carrier, share Christ with him or her.  Instead of just saying, ďthank youĒ to a waiter/waitress or repairman, ask if they know the Lord and have accepted Him as their Lord and Savior. 

Outreach is like learning a new language. Yes you may be a little uncomfortable when you first use it.  But the more you use it the better you get at it.  Conversely, if you donít use it you lose it -- you lose the fire to witness verbally if you donít practice. 

When we make outreach a lifestyle, weíll see that several opportunities abound to witness.  And when we see outreach as a lifestyle and not a ministry, weíll not just go out and witness on Community Outreach Day.  When we see outreach as a lifestyle, weíll not just see a particular year as a year of outreach.  When we see outreach as a lifestyle, weíll see outreach as a mandate from Jesus Christ and not a man.  When we see outreach as a lifestyle, outreach will be who we are and not just what we do. 

As believers, outreach is our way of life not a ministry! 

Now, GO!