The Evangelism Group

Equipping The Future

Giving Thanks When Giving Is All You’ve Got

ThanksgivingGiving Thanks When Giving Is All You’ve Got
by Dr. Marshall M. Windsor

During one Thanksgiving season, our family had the privilege of helping a church with their Thanksgiving outreach. Church members were encouraged to prepare turkeys provided by the church and bring another dish and desert for this special Sunday meal. Preparations had been made to feed approximately 400 guests that day. Tables were set up and deserts were placed at every seat—the entire church worked hard to ensure everything was ready for the big day.

When Thanksgiving Sunday rolled around there were only a few guests. Sadly, the church’s own folks comprised most of those in attendance. Of the possible 400 seats available, approximately 135 or so were filled. A lot of turkey and dressing remained after everyone finished eating that day; not-to-mention a very disappointed pastor who had worked tirelessly with his wife and church family to make this a very special day. It seemed like everyone was discouraged!

However, there were numerous good things that happened with this (and every) outreach event. As a leader, you must encourage those who have worked so hard to make an effort to reach out within their individual communities. And sometimes, you need to take a long hard look to see any good yourself. If we only look at the number of attendants, we might always be discouraged and defeated when numbers alone are lacking. But helping people see Jesus in you and your church takes time—a lot of time. That’s why consistency is so important for outreach events. Year after year consistency makes a wonderful statement to those in your community.

When conducting outreach events, even working to have an outreach is a success! After all, our sole responsibility is to scatter the Gospel seed for God…and to leave harvest up to Him. In the case of this Thanksgiving Day outreach there were several successes that needed mentioning. Maybe you can identify with some of them.

First, the ability of the church to work together in preparing for the event was amazing. A significant portion of the church (over 50%) volunteered to help! As any non-profit leader will assure you, without volunteers nothing would get done! So show your appreciation!

Second, the church discovered that they had a large number of great cooks in its midst. Everyone seemed to bring a delicious dish to share and numerous folks helped in the kitchen. I don’t know about you, but as I traveled for so many years, more than one potluck dinner comes to mind that I wish I could forget! When word gets out about your gourmet chefs – people will come just to enjoy some great food when the atmosphere is welcoming.

Third, the church passed out tickets to the event, so even if no one came, the community knew that something was happening at this church! Awareness is a key to outreach effectiveness. If no one knows your church is having an event – no one will bother to come – it’s just that simple. There are plenty of free resources (including your congregation) that are available to help with this – like social media and a church web site.

Fourth, the church family had a great opportunity to fellowship together. Corporate gatherings are a great way to nurture believers and encourage the saints! And this church has such a sweet spirit and welcoming attitude among each other that it can’t help but overflow to guests as well. They always seem to embrace folks and make them feel like long lost family members, which is exactly what you want visitors to feel when they come to your church.

And Fifth, everyone seemed to pull together for cleanup. Instead of leaving this to one or two people, everyone worked together to clean the kitchen, as well as fold up tables and chairs—what a miracle! Usually, the pastor’s wife gets left with clean up duty. I was so impressed by the fact that they had to run some folks out of the kitchen just so they could work!

All kidding aside, when outreaches don’t seem to be as fruitful as you would like you need to reinforce the positive and try, try, try again! Consistency is what pays off when doing outreach. You may have only made a small impact this time, but when you couple this church’s kind of participation with consistency, you should begin to see an increase in the fruit of your labors.

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November 8, 2013 - Posted by | Devotions | , , ,

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