The Many Faces
The Many Faces of Outreach
by Brian Williams
After 15 years of pastoring, I have certainly learned the value of outreach. Churches grow, souls are saved, and the kingdom of God is expanded through our efforts to reach people. I have also encountered a number of misconceptions regarding this grand subject. For many, outreach is an event. Some see outreach as a “special day.” Others think the only real “outreach” is door-to-door evangelism—sharing the faith with New Testament in hand.
In 2009, God led my family and me to Buffalo, New York, to plant NorthPoint Free Will Baptist Church. Our official launch service was held September 11, 2011, and God has blessed the efforts, allowing us to have an impact on our community. Through this endeavor, He has taught me a number of lessons. One of the most significant is that outreach has many faces.
Take Paul and Kristi for instance. They visited NorthPoint because someone knocked on their door and left a door-hanger. Still, it was more than three months before they decided to come. Their marriage was in shambles, and they needed help. Not long after their first visit, Paul gave his life to Christ, and I had the privilege of baptizing him just a few weeks ago.
Or consider Jason and Kim, a couple my wife and I met through the Craigslist website. We needed to purchase a toddler bed for our son, and Jason and Kim just “happened” to be selling one. Through this initial contact, we became friends. A little over a year later, they began to attend our church, and Jason was baptized the same day as Paul.
Moncia is a single grandmother raising four grandkids, three under the age of six. Moncia’s first introduction to NorthPoint was through a mailpiece. She kept the card for some time, but she did not start attending our church until months later when she met my wife Emily and Amanda York at an area playground. She and her grandchildren are among our most faithful families, and Moncia helps lead our toddler ministry.
John is 72 years old, and by his own testimony, had never given his life to Christ. He started attending NorthPoint because a visiting mission team handed out water bottles at a local grocery store. That “bottle of water given in Jesus’ name” changed John’s life forever. What joy he brought to our congregation when he trusted the Lord as his personal Savior!
Consider another John on the other end of the spectrum. He is 22 years old and in his words, his life was “falling apart.” John actually found our church through Google. He called the church office, and we set up a time to meet. After hearing him describe how he “lost his faith” and was starting to doubt the existence of God, we talked and prayed together for hours. Just a few weeks ago, he offered a salvation prayer and walked out of our church service a new man.
We met Crystal through a contact from another Free Will Baptist church. We met Alice because a friend spent years praying for her. We met Nell, Cathy, Ashley, Brittany, and Kaylanna through Alice. We met Jenny through our kids’ school. We met Gregg and Jennie through a community event. These are just a few of the many faces of outreach in Buffalo.
Several years ago, I remember being heartbroken as I listened to the song, “People Need the Lord.” One of the verses says, “Every day they pass me by, I can see it in their eyes, empty people filled with care, headed who knows where.”
The truth is, people surround you daily, and their greatest need is a Savior. Each person is just another one of the “many faces of outreach,” and you have the opportunity and responsibility to reach them with the gospel.
About the Writer: Brian and Emily Williams are planting a Free Will Baptist church in Buffalo, New York. The city is New York’s second largest, known as the “City with a Heart.” Learn more about their ministry: NorthPointBuffalo.com