September 27, 2011 PhilBell

How are YOU Reaching Others?

We tell students to reach out to their friends…

We tell students about the Great Commission and we tell them to bring their friends to our youth events…

We tell them to invest in friendships at church to stay strong, but also to invest in friends outside the church to share the Gospel…

We tell them to break down barriers at the schools and have opportunities to share their lives with kids who don’t know God…

But, what about us? What about you? If I am honest, there have been many times when I have found myself feeling a little hypocritical telling students these things. Or, if you are like me, we use the excuse of being a youth worker whose life is so consumed with church that we can’t do the things we are telling our students. You might even conclude that the kids who come to your youth group are your opportunity for outreach… But as I think about it, none of these excuses sit well with me…

It’s about leadership example! Even if our schedules are consumed with church work and meetings, it’s about our example. Over time, students are able to decipher whether we are committed to do what we preach. Utimately, our students will follow our teaching when we lead by example and commitment. How are we leading by example in this area?

So, with all this said, here are three things I am doing to lead by example when it comes to reaching out to people outside of church: 

1) Starbucks: I love Starbucks, it’s no secret! But I also love Starbucks because of the opportunity it gives me to get to know so many different people in my community. I have been coming here 3-4 times a week for over a year. I know many of the “regulars” and I know each of the barrsita’s by name. (They also know my  “usual”: Pike Place Roast, two percent, with two raw sugars). I also know many of their struggles, joys and hurts. These days they even ask my advice as a “man of God”…

It’s been a year, but opportunities are starting to present themselves… In my previous church I did the same thing. Today, Kim and her family and Christine and her kids are plugged into church every Sunday and have a solid faith.

2) Soccer: I play on a local over 30’s soccer team. Again, they all know I am pastor, but it seems like over time, they forget my title and start to see me as “one of the guys”. I have had some incredible talks with my team, and they have become my friends. For me, I respect their boundaries, and make sure that faith conversations come in their time and not on my agenda…

3) Coaching: Last spring I helped coached my daughter’s soccer team. (She is only 5, so when I say “coached”, I actually mean I provided “crowd control.” I also learned that people in kids ministry are a special group of people… These 5 year olds wore me out)! Being a coach gave me opportunities to speak to many of the parents and their kids. Even though my contact was short and limited, I did learn so much about how families outside the church are doing. Sometimes, when we spend time with only church people, we forget how the rest of the world is working… It’s important that we understand the issues and context that non-churched people face.

These three things are fairly small and are not out of the ordinary. However, as I talk to friends in ministry, I am finding that many of us are not making the time to break out of our own ministry worlds to reach people who live in the world…

Why should we expect our students to reach their friends when we are not? What do you do to reach others? Or, what can you do to get into the world and reach the people God is calling you to reach? 

About the Author

PhilBell Phil Bell is a Family Ministry pastor with over 15 years of experience ministering to families. He holds a Masters in Christian Ministry and is a national speaker, columnist, author, and blogger. He’s passionate about investing in families and equipping parents to reach the next generation for Christ. He’s originally from England and now lives in Raleigh, NC, with his wife Lisa and their three beautiful kids.