Our approach to outreach focuses on reaching the whole person. We try to create life plans for those we serve, which includes faith in Christ, and life habits for wholeness.
One example can be seen in the life of a young man named "Dart." When Dart was 12 years old, he began attending our youth programs, and in his teens he made a commitment to live for Christ. Today Dart is 25. Many of his peers from his rough neighborhood have been murdered or imprisoned, but Dart's path has been different. He is married, has a child, and is currently finishing his college degree. He plans to teach math in the urban high school he attended and to be a positive African-American male role model for kids in his community.
The need for a male role model brought Dart to our church in the first place, after his father had divorced his mother. However since Dart began attending our church, his mother and father have both come to Christ and now attend as well. His mother oversees our Thanksgiving and Christmas ministries, which we run in cooperation with our local City Gospel Mission. Dart's dad also works with City Gospel Mission as a supervisor for their treatment program.
The families who receive these services need to be connected with the church; at the very least, their children must be participating in our youth programs. We regularly collect a special benevolence offering, which is used for emergency needs such as rent or food for needy persons who are already connected to our church and programs. When strangers call the church asking for money, we explain we only assist those in our congregation. This way we are not simply giving money to help with one-time emergencies. Rather we are pouring our resources into people that we can also walk alongside and help in a holistic fashion. And because they attend our Sunday gatherings, they hear the gospel message repeatedly and have ample opportunities to respond in faith.
—Katherine Callahan-Howell Winton Community Free Methodist Church, Cincinnati, Ohio.
Copyright © 2012 by the author or Christianity Today/Leadership Journal.
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