Every church has the opportunity to reach out to the lost in their area. What kind of outreach ministries should a church have? First, no single congregation can provide every type of outreach ministry. In His wisdom, God has uniquely gifted each congregation with those who excel in particular types of outreach. We can categorize outreach ministries in two types —essential outreach ministries and optional outreach ministries.
There are a few types of outreach that every church congregation should perform. These practices are essential. While the way they are carried out will vary, Scripture is clear the church is to reach out in the following areas:
Direct evangelism: Church members should be involved in telling others about Jesus Christ (1 Peter 3:15-16).
World missions: Every church is called to reach out beyond its local community to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18-20).
Outreach ministries to the poor and needy: Jesus said, “Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me’” (Matthew 25:37-40). Ministry to the “least of these” must be part of every church’s outreach.
Outreach to children: In Luke 18:16-17, Jesus taught, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”
Building on these essential areas of outreach, many other ministries could be developed. Examples include the following:
Prison ministry: Outreach to the incarcerated and their family members.
Military ministry: Outreach to those who serve in the armed forces and their family members.
Disability ministry: While all churches are called to minister to those in physical need, serving those affected by disability provides life-changing help to those often neglected by others.
Youth and young adult ministries: Teenagers and college-age students represent a strategic ministry opportunity and in turn can serve as ministers and missionaries to others.
Senior adult ministries: All churches are called to care for their older members, yet there are many components of this ministry that can be developed. In-home visitation, hospital visitation, holiday outreach activities, and much more can benefit those who often feel isolated or alone.
Arts-related ministries: Many artists involved in music, painting, dance, etc., feel a special connection with other artists that is often not found within the local church. Ministry in this area can help artists grow spiritually and provide opportunity for the arts to flourish within the church.
Workplace outreach: Since most adults spend the majority of their weekday hours at work, outreach in the marketplace offers connections to people the church might otherwise miss.
Regardless of the form outreach takes, all churches are called to verbally share the gospel, to reach out beyond their congregation, and to serve those in need. The method may vary, but the message is unchanging: Jesus Christ died for sinners, He rose again, and He lives today.