August 23rd E-votional

It’s been a few weeks since we have wrapped up Art and Music camp.  As in previous years, it was another great camp!  The children, youth, and family committee has now moved on to planning fall activities such as Seeds, Kick-off Sunday, and Trunk-or-Treat.  One question that occasionally comes up is “do these events bring people into the church?”  If that is a question we are asking, then we need to re-frame what outreach is  about.

The Saturday after Art and Music camp, Heather, Hannah, and I went to a baby shower for my youngest cousin on my Dad’s side, Brianna. Her older brother and sister both flew in to celebrate the baby shower.  While  Brianna lives in the area and we see her once or twice a year, we have only seen Justin and Erica a couple of times over the past 15 years.  Weddings, funerals, momentous family occasions, that type of thing.  However, at the shower and at my Aunt and Uncle’s house afterwards, we fell into comfortable, usual patterns.  Besides catching up, it was like no time had passed.  Because we knew each other so well from when we were younger, there was a familiarity there that time did little to diminish.

I think that is what outreach is all about.  Building a relationship, creating a familiarity.  One day someone from one of our events might have a crisis.  They may have questions about God.  They may feel a call to something greater in their lives.  If that happens, they will remember the church where they heard of Jesus’ love, where they jumped in the bounce house, where they played games and sang songs.  They will remember the church that loved them and welcomed them and know that they have a place where they can go.

When I still lived in Illinois, I ran out to the grocery store one day.  I ran into a family, whose children had attended our vacation bible school the month before.  The little boy tugged on his mom’s sleeve and said, “Mom, mom…that’s my church person.”  He didn’t know the word pastor, but he knew I was from the church and I was there for him.  That is what outreach is all about!  Building relationships.  Building familiarity.  Letting people know that we are here for them and that just as God loves them, we love them!

If our outreach brings some people into the church along the way, that is great!  But, it is only the icing on the cake!  As Christians, we are not called to grow the biggest church possible.  We are called to create followers of Christ.  We are called to share God’s love and grace as shown in Jesus Christ.  We are called to love with the same love that we have been shown.  That begins with building a relationship, loving them without expecting anything in return.

Jeremiah 24:7 “I will give them a heart to know that I am the LORD; and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.”

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