Contact Info Subscribe Links


April-May 2016


Without Borders


Online Edition

Download PDF

iPad and E-Reader




History Resources



Facebook Twitter Google Pinterest Email


Outreach: The Monkey on My Back

By Jeff Goodman


It was a gorgeous day, and everything was set and ready for Easter Extravaganza 2013. We were a new church plant desiring to see souls come to know Jesus, and we had placed a lot of literal (and metaphorical) eggs into this basket. As the day began, I could not have been happier. The place was packed, and over 450 people heard the gospel. They all enjoyed a huge egg hunt, free food, and tons of free prizes. Then I heard these words: “We have called an ambulance because someone (a first-time guest) has passed out.”

My head started spinning as I ran to see what was going on. I got a wet washcloth and wiped the lady’s forehead. I was concerned for her, and honestly, I was really worried she might sue us. Thankfully, she was fine, and surprisingly, they were one of the only families that began attending church on a regular basis. Needless to say, I left that day exhausted and proud that our little congregation had pulled off a highly successful event.

Now, let’s consider this story again from behind the scenes and with a little hindsight. At the time of this event we were averaging around 65 people. We had everything well planned and laid out. Every effort was made for this to be a great day; however, it was highly stressful for our new church and put even more strain on young converts still in the infancy stages of their relationships with Christ.

Our heart that day was to tell people about Jesus, and we had a really great service. The next week, about 20 guests came back, but 20 of our regular attenders were out, presumably resting from their huge efforts the weekend before. The guests were shocked because we had been a church of 450 a week earlier, and now we had only 60 in attendance. Our church folks got stressed out, and sadly, most guests (and some regulars) never came back. We gained about eight people from the event and lost 15 to 20. Needless to say, the pride and excitement over the great outreach event quickly turned to sadness when I realized I had planned the event well, but did not prepare our congregation properly. The day was filled with distractions, logistical problems, and an immense amount of stress. I vowed never to make that mistake again.

Sometimes, we must evaluate with an open mind and conclude that everything we do to reach people for Christ is not as effective as we had hoped. In the past, I measured effective outreach by one standard—how many warm bodies showed up. I believe many of us use numbers as our standard of measurement. While I am not writing a “right and wrong list” for church outreach, I advocate a proper assessment as outreach opportunities are planned. Here are several things we have learned by our own mistakes during outreach opportunities:


Doing something is better than nothing.

I make many mistakes when it comes to outreach. I learn from them. I grow. I ask questions. I try again. We live in a community that is 90% unchurched, so anything I do to let people see Jesus is a valued effort; however, we want to do things as effectively as possible and be good stewards of our time and finances. We must stay teachable.


Bigger is not always better.

Sometimes, sheer numbers can be helpful. In our early days of planting, we did several large events that got our name out in the community. I have read it takes five to six “touches” (instances where an individual comes in contact with you or hears your name) before someone will attend your church. As we plan outreach events, we should take this into account.

When we participate in local festivals here in Marana, Arizona, our goal is to do something kind or fun. We just want to share the love of Jesus with our community and give them an opportunity to meet us. We usually give away a small, inexpensive gift and have fun games for children. We encounter throngs of people, but have little personal contact.

We also do small outreaches in our local parks during recreational ball seasons. We give away free coffee and doughnuts. It only costs about $150, and I love these events! We usually only meet a few hundred people, but we get to speak to each of them, share information about our church, and give them a personal invitation.

Several people have visited the church as a result of these small acts of kindness. Just remember, bigger is not always better. You do not need a huge budget to reach people with the love of Jesus. Be creative and look for opportunities already in place in your community.


Be who you are.

At our Easter Extravaganza, we looked like a church of 450, when in reality we were a church of 65. We did not represent ourselves accurately, and after people came back the following Sunday, they did not return. Be who you are. If you’re traditional, be traditional. If you are more contemporary, be contemporary. If you’re a country church, be a country church. Make sure everything you do in outreach paints a clear picture of who you are as a church.

I have seen churches hang banners featuring pictures with young couples, when in reality none of those people actually attend that church, and the congregation is aging. Wanting young couples to begin attending your church is a great thing, and is probably necessary, but “tricking them” will never work.

I know of a church plant that is a cowboy church. Their goal is to reach cowboys. Their website clearly sticks to the cowboy niche…but the pastor has never been a cowboy, and doesn’t even own a horse. While the church has a clear demographic of those they want to reach, it has struggled because the pastor is not being himself. Be who you are. Be genuine.


Personal Invitations are always the best.

The Springs Church no longer sends mass mailings. I am not saying they are wrong. They had a place in the early days of our church when we knew few people, but they are costly and have a small return on the investment. We also discovered few people would return after their first visit when they attended as a result of a mailer brochure.

After our huge Easter service, we reevaluated how we would do outreach for “big day” services such as Easter, Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, Christmas Eve, etc. We print special invitations and put them into the hands of our church people. When they invite someone, they have a personal connection. We have found when people visit, and they already have a connection with someone in the church, they are more likely to return.

On the Easter Sunday following the 2013 extravaganza, 250 people attended our service, all invited by our church folks. The congregation “took ownership” of their church, and they were proud people they had invited came. They said it was the best Easter ever, and Christ was magnified!


Listen to God’s calling and direction.

Always seek God’s calling about every outreach you intend to do. Follow His lead, look for where He is already working, and join Him. Find needs in your city and community and get involved. Work with others, collaborate, and partner with other churches. We cannot reach everybody by ourselves.

I have often directed people to churches that are a better fit for them. It can be difficult to be Kingdom-minded in this competitive world in which we live. Don’t let everything you do just be about you or your church. It has been difficult at times to let go of the competitive mentality, but it is pleasing to God when we do.



Pray over the invite cards. Pray over the event. Pray over your people. Pray for God to speak and draw people into a relationship with Him. Pray for God to cover your mistakes, your missteps. Most of all…trust in the Lord. We have made many mistakes doing all kinds of outreach here in Marana, but God can cover our mistakes and messes and work through our efforts to draw people unto Himself.

Time is short, and the older I get, the more urgent this feeling inside me grows. It won’t go away. Outreach has become the “monkey on my back.” People need to know Jesus, and we have to reach out to them and share Him. May others see the love of Jesus through you on a daily basis.


About the Writer: Jeff Goodman, Josh Bennett, and their families are planting The Springs FWB Church in Marana, Arizona. The rapidly growing city is located 15 miles north of Tucson, and 90% of the people in the area are unchurched. Pray for Jeff, Heather, and daughter Ava as they share Christ with the people of Marana. Learn more:




©2016 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists