3 Reasons and Practical Ways for Churches to be Externally Focused

Posted on January 17th, 2014 by Tonya Nichols

Why?

Businesses and churches alike seem to struggle to simultaneously build infrastructure and grow outwardly to be externally focused. Focusing on infrastructure usually interferes with externally-focused efforts in sales and marketing (for businesses) or community outreach (for churches). It is understandable, often even necessary, for a business to shift focus from time to time. But outreach is a primary responsibility of a church. God does not call Christians to “seasons” of outreach ministry but rather to lives dedicated to Him and to reaching others. Without sustained, effective outreach, a church cannot fulfill its purpose and cannot survive.

There are 3 primary reasons to be outward focused:

  • Prepare People to Hear the Gospel - The underlying purpose of outreach is not just to meeting needs in the community, it is to build relationships to gain the trust to share the gospel of Christ.   The best place to share the love of Christ is to start with felt needs.  Because the spiritual, material, physical, financial emotional, intellectual and social needs of people in the community are so diverse, several different types of outreach programs are necessary.
  • Church Growth - Church outreach is also means to introduce people in the community to the church by making them aware of God’s love for them.  Outreach stimulates church growth by mobilizing members to minister to the un-churched.  Outreach is only a starting point for many people on their path to a relationship with Jesus Christ.  Churches must pick up where outreach ends, providing the worship, fellowship and discipleship opportunities to those they have reached out to.
  • Church Morale - Besides leading people to Christ and drawing people into the church, bringing healing and help to our communities, outreach encourages the church volunteer as well.  This is an important part of the process for growing disciples and fostering fellowship among believers.   Discipleship involves much more than training and education; it requires practical application.  A church goal of reaching out to the community in love and service, with the ultimate purpose of witnessing to the saving grace of Jesus Christ, will absolutely unify a congregation.

1. How do we measure outreach success?

The church simply cannot be effective without a priority placed on outreach ministry.  So why does outreach seem, so often, to either not be our focus or, despite our best efforts, not be very effective? Essentially, the challenge becomes finding the time and money necessary for effective community outreach.  But I believe, more often than not, the resources are there but the delivery systems are flawed.  We’re simply not making the best use of the time (energy and intentions) and money available to the church and its members.

The level of participation of church members in ministry, and the number of souls saved, are ultimate measures of the “fruit” of a church. Ask yourself  . . .

  • How many have been equipped and mobilized for ministry?
  • How any are fulfilling their life mission in the world?

This is the fruit of fulfilling the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.

2. How do we empower members/volunteers for effective and efficient outreach?

Today, many churches and ministries are using innovative, effective and inexpensive outreach programs.  While big events can be an expensive, like block parties that bring Christian churches in a community together to help those in need, they can also be landmark occasions for both the church and the community.  Support groups and classes on topics like marriage, child rearing, career planning, etc. require time but not much money.  Meet The Need minimizes the resources or effort traditionally required of the church. Meet The Need can mobilize church members to be ministers in the community directly and in very impactful ways.  Making an investment in community outreach is not optional; the only question is how to be most effective and efficient in bringing the gospel of Jesus Christ to the un-churched in our communities.

3. How do we keep the balance of ministry and outreach needs? 

Churches must be cautious as to not have an inverse relationship between an emphasis on building buildings and building disciples. Many churches have ambitious building programs but often seem to lack ambitious discipleship processes and a bold message from the pulpit.  Maybe in those cases the attention has shifted so much internally, like the company that is overly focused on building infrastructure, that the church is not maintaining a reasonable “balance” across its purposes, under emphasizing evangelism and outreach ministry.  Understanding how to grow without building new buildings is a difficult question, but if you concentrate on building people, God will build the church.

How?

 

Check out our latest webinar, “Keeping an External Focus”, to see more outreach best practices.  Hear directly from Community Bible Church in San Antonio, TX how they manage to stay externally focused throughout the year with the help of Meet The Need.

 

A Thankful Heart

Posted on November 27th, 2013 by Jill Aubin

During this season of praise, we at Meet The Need are so thankful to God for expanding our territory both geographically and in serving specific initiatives.  What a breakthrough year for Meet The Need!  The Lord has opened doors for us to partner with so many groundbreaking organizations.  Whether it be in Our Cities, Our Nation, or Our World, God has blessed Meet The Need with partners like you and we are truly grateful to be working with you!

In many Cities we have key partners who have seen great success uniting and mobilizing their cities using Meet The Need.  Whether it be engaging churches and ministries, involving city and county leadership, broadcasting resources, broadcasting city wide needs, or playing a key role in response efforts during a city wide disasters, these partners have exceeded our expectations!  We are thankful for you!

Across the Nation we have key partners tackling societal issues head-on. Solutions that we’ve developed to help churches, charities and businesses communicate more effectively are also badly needed in addressing social issues such as hunger, disaster relief, adoption/foster care, and grade-level literacy.  Non-profits addressing these issues have struggled with lacking technology to help them manage and communicate efficiently – until our partnerships were formed.  We are thankful for you!

World wide the interest is growing.  Groups who share our heart to unite and mobilize churches and charities to do more to serve those in need are rising to the challenge of launching Meet The Need nationally in Brazil, Canada and Australia.  We are thankful for you!

We are counting our many blessings and truly appreciate those that have contributed to our vision.  May God richly bless you all!

To read more about our partnerships - Click here

 

What are the Issues in Your City?

Posted on August 13th, 2013 by Tonya Nichols

How much time do you spend listening to what your community is saying?

Think about your city. Think about individual neighborhoods—rich, poor, and everything in between. Now, challenge yourself to think about the forgotten neighborhoods (perhaps filled with forgotten people). Maybe, you have to admit, you’ve forgotten them too. What challenges does your city wrestle with? Inadequate transportation, lack of jobs, illiteracy, and latch key children are a few of many that may come to mind.

Our own thoughts and ideas about ‘fixing things’ make for good chatter at dinner parties. But, if we are serious about change it requires a deeper understanding of our neighborhoods, neighbors and their perspective. We need to listen. We seem to make this complicated. It’s actually pretty simple–In order to listen you need to be in relationship. We need to be in places where needs are presented and opportunities for collaborative community-driven Christ-centered action are available. (Note: this might mean (1) rearranging our priorities and calendars and (2) forming cross-cultural and cross-denominational friendships.)

Consider the story of AR Kids Read in Little Rock, Arkansas. I think it will inspire you:

The Issue: Literacy in Little Rock

Several years ago the city of Little Rock, Arkansas uncovered a problem. And, it’s a problem that your community may also share. Nearly 50% of fourth grade students in Central Arkansas are reading below grade level—and community leaders have identified K-12 education as the top issue affecting the economic future of their region.

As community leaders began to research effective solutions and benchmark existing literacy programs throughout the U.S., they quickly recognized that consistent one-to-one tutoring coupled with effective mentor training and support was the key. “People began to ask ‘How will we find these volunteers and where will they come from?’ and we were at the table to say ‘We have relationships with hundreds of churches, ministries, and civic groups,’” shared Traci Wheelis, Operations Manager at AR Kids Read.

The Solution: Collaboration

“Things began to take off from there and at so many moments during this journey, which has been over a year now, God has had a hand in the process. We could not have done this on our own,” Traci said. “We found that we really began to build momentum because no matter what the size of the church, how large or small the elementary school, what neighborhood people were coming from or going to, the issue of literacy was easy to rally around. We all recognize that the future of our children is important, and that one individual could really make a difference. Anyone could help.”

After successful pilots at several elementary schools in January 2012, the new school year prompted The Nehemiah Network to launch AR Kids Read and mobilize over 1,000 church members as individual tutors for third graders throughout three school districts.  Going into their  4th successful semester they now have team captains at 43 elementary schools and 250+ volunteers from churches and businesses.

“We encountered several significant obstacles along the way,” Traci shared. “There were times we didn’t know how this was going to be funded. And, it was all so new and unfamiliar at the beginning that we really had to work hard to be unified and blend many perspectives and ideas into one cohesive program. I have to say that one of our biggest challenges in the beginning was logistics. Meet the Need has made it easy for us to communicate the dozens of tutoring times available to our volunteers AND automatically notifies our partners at the school district when a volunteer has registered so they can get them scheduled for training and orientation.”

To hear an interview with Traci Wheelis and learn more about how to replicate this program in your own community (and how to set it up efficiently in your Meet The Need account), watch the August User Webinar – “Events Made Easy“.

Register for our next user webinar on September 10 at 1p eastern “Holiday Preparation

What Does Serving Others Do? Part 2

Posted on July 31st, 2013 by Tonya Nichols

What Does Serving Others Do?

Part 2

 

Serving Others Brings Unity

I believe that nothing blesses God more than when we are serving others together as the Body of Christ.  Most of us are familiar with Paul’s letter to the Christians in Corinth about the church being the Body of Christ having different members, yet being one, unified. (1 Corinthians 12).  Serving across typical denominational lines or even your own church’s normal ‘circle’ can push us out of our comfort zone, but is well worth it when we experience the blessing of  Psalm 133:1!

“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!”  -Psalm 133:1

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”   -John 13:34-35

Joe Shansi who served with 4KIDS of South Florida  said: “What a wonderful first-time experience (for me) for a great cause. What a great atmosphere to be working at an event with a group of volunteers with the spirit of God present.  I loved it, especially being able to meet other brothers and sisters in Christ.”

Other great testimonies of serving others in unity:

“We had a great crew of volunteers working at the store loading groceries as individuals and families shopped to help other families in need! It was really cool to work alongside other people from a variety of churches in our area! Yeah God!”

  • “My 13 year old son Matthew and I had so much fun on Sunday afternoon at ECHO. Such a great turnout and enthusiastic volunteers. It was truly a great feeling working side-by-side with not only our church’s volunteers but other churches’ members as well.”
  • “It was an amazing experience. So many people were there and we all worked together for God!”
  • “It was a great day of serving someone in need. I was amazed at what we accomplished in such a short period. Many hands make light work. I am so thankful to have been a part of being a blessing to someone else!”

Serving Others Encourages Serving

As mentioned in What Does Serving Others Do?  Part 1  I talked about how in serving you are changed because God made you to freely give and so a unique true need is also met in you.  I believe that this multiplies in us a desire to keep serving.  It doesn’t tire us out, but quite the opposite actually happens – we are regenerated and so have a desire and energy to serve more.  Serving becomes a “fill” for us, not a “drain” and takes the focus off of our problems and situation and allows us to see others and their needs.

Marci Evans, a member of Christ Church Plano in Plano, Texas who volunteered as part of the church’s outreach at Minnie’s Food Pantry said this about how serving others encourages more serving:  “My family had a wonderful experience and watched as our oldest daughter expressed genuine caring and generosity to others and her service. She is now asking to volunteer at Minnie’s Food Pantry to continue service to others.  Thank you to our church for opening our daughter Emily’s eyes to this need in our community.”

Other awesome testimonies on how serving others keeps giving:

  • “We mowed the lawn and trimmed all of the trees.  We were able to do some tree trimming for the neighbors as well. I met some nice people and it’s always fun to do something that benefits others.  Praise God for all of the chances to help.”
  • “I took a helper with me and he was really humbled by the experience. He mentioned to me that he would like to help more often.”

What Does Serving Others Do? Part 1

Posted on July 15th, 2013 by Tonya Nichols

What Does Serving Others Do?

Part 1

SERVING CHANGES LIVES

Those whom you serve are changed through having their needs met, you are changed because God made you to freely give and so a unique true need is also met in you, and in turn your community is changed because the church is fulfilling the Great Commandment to “Love your neighbor as yourself” found in Matthew 22:37-40.

It was great to hear of Cardell Brown’s testimony who served in McKinney, Texas with 3e McKinney’s Garage Giveaway:  “I had a super time directing traffic and meeting new friends.  Most of all it was great to be able to pray one on one with the folks who were dropping items off.  We prayed for healing, jobs, homes, children, and a host of other things. I can’t wait to hear the good reports.  It was great having my son here on this day so he could see that we are blessed to be a blessing.”

Andrea Durrett who served with Tampa’s Metropolitan Ministries shared:   “I truly enjoyed working in outreach, I really felt like I made a difference in people’s lives. Thank you for the opportunity!”

Some other testimonies of how serving changes lives:

  • “We had a wonderful time helping seniors in their homes. It was a blessing to watch our children share their time with us while serving others.”
  • “It was just so amazing to be there and be a part of that experience. I never realized how many people there were in our community that needed help.”
  • “It was a great experience for our 14 year old son.  It’s important to learn about giving of your time. I have done this with other children when they were in their teens as well.”

 SERVING PLEASES GOD

Our sacrifice is to keep offering praise to God in the name of Jesus.  But don’t forget to help others and to share your possessions with them. This too is like offering a sacrifice that pleases God.”  -Hebrews 13:15-16

Obviously God made us to worship Him, but we tend to think that worship is what we do on Sundays.  Worship is a daily lifestyle of praising God and giving Him glory through our thoughts, words and actions.  What better way is there to show our love for Him in action through serving those in need!

Testimonies of Serving that Pleases God:

  • “It was an opportunity to serve God.”
  • “It blesses my heart and my family’s to be the hands and feet of God.  I thank the Lord for allowing us to give back to His people and help further His kingdom.
  • “It was more than I expected (in a good way).  Thank you for the training to be equipped to serve with prisoners that are being released back into society. What a ministry that I am so blessed to be a part of! No better way to be more like Jesus than visiting those in prison. God use me!”

Next time in “What Does Serving Others Do? Part 2″. We will talk about how serving brings unity in the church and encourages even more serving!  It truly is a “Win-Win” situation!

The Kids are out of School…now what?

Posted on June 21st, 2013 by Jill Aubin

How do we keep those little ones busy and learning this summer? Keeping them involved in giving can restore so much of the balance that gets out of whack during a time when materialism is so often the focus with vacation trips, amusement parks, shopping and eating out. Creating a culture of giving and service with your kids can be one of the most valuable lessons they can learn and the greatest gift you can give them! There are many great opportunities for community service for kids that will expand their social circle, teach them empathy and compassion and increase their chances of success in life.

Need some help coming up with ideas? Consider these:

  •  Have a “trying on” party and clean out dresser drawers and donate clothing that they have outgrown to a local shelter.  Play dance music to make it fun!
  • Take the kids to a local nursing home and hug a resident.  It makes their day to see the little ones
  • Bake cookies and deliver them to a fire or police station as an appreciation
  • Go to a local park or community area and pick up trash
  • Write a letter to a soldier and thank him for his sacrifices
  • Go through your pantry and pick out canned goods to take to a local food pantry
  • Commission your kids to help you babysit for a single mom
  • Make baby care packages for the pregnancy center
  • Do yard work for an elderly neighbor
  • While out running errands with the kids, say thank you to the grocery clerks, waitresses, counter clerks, etc. Random acts of kindness
  • Deliver and plant some flowers to brighten someone’s day
  • Collect good/clean stuffed animals and dolls from friends and deliver to pediatric hospital
  • Offer to walk a dog or wash a car for a neighbor
  • Help weed in a community garden
  • Prepare sack lunches and deliver them to the homeless in your community

Everyone has something to offer or share with others, even children. Always consider your child’s passions, talents and gifting’s when picking your projects.  Your kids will return to school telling all their teachers and classmates what an awesome summer they had giving back to others!

 

 

New! Group Sign-Up is here for Events!

Posted on May 9th, 2013 by Jill Aubin

When a volunteer adopts an EVENT need and says they are bringing multiple people with them to serve, have you ever wanted to know who those people are and have each of them receive automated reminder emails?  Want to see the serving activity of your small groups and families?  Well now you can!

Registration is quick!

If a volunteer changes the quantity of people coming to anything greater than 1 then a pop-up appears asking if they’d like to register a “group”.  That individual names the group and registers everyone in their group to meet that need by entering the following information for each group member.

  • email
  • name
  • phone
  • age range

Each individual becomes a Pending Member of the Master Organization (if they are not already approved). The system will remember the group so that the user can utilize it at a later date.  Group members can always be deleted or added.

 

Note: do not check the per user limit when posting the need if you want to allow your volunteers to utilize group sign-up.

Reporting is easy!

Data for each volunteer is captured on your current Needs and Commitments Reports.

  • See what individuals and groups have sign up for particular need.
  • Search easily by group name to see all the serving activity of a particular group.
  • Sort by individual to see how he/she as served by themselves or with a particular group(s).

Emails Go to Everyone!

  • Each group member receives a confirmation email with unique access to their personal serve account (through a temporary password).
  • Each group member can edit or cancel their own commitment at their convenience.
  • Each Group member receives automatic reminder emails at 21, 7, and 1 day prior to the need date.

 

Overwhelmed? 7 Steps from Jesus

Posted on April 18th, 2013 by Tonya Nichols

Do you ever feel overwhelmed?  Like there is too much to do with being a spouse, a parent, serving in ministry, being a leader, being a friend, a child, etc.  You see all there is to do, but just can’t do it all on your own.  God makes these seasons in our life to call us back to Him – because guess what?  . . . We can’t do it on our own, we need Him.  I found comfort in God’s word in a season in my life, where I felt just this way.

7 Steps from Jesus

In John 6:1-15 there is the story of Jesus feeding the five thousand.  In that story there is a “formula” for what to do in life when we feel overwhelmed, when we see a crowd coming and just don’t feel like we can do it.

1. Ask for helpIn verse 5 Jesus (although he already knew the answer) asked for help.  We should ask God for help and put down our pride and ask those around us for help.

2. Don’t focus on what we don’t have – In verse 7 Philip pointed out what they didn’t have.  Quickly Andrew changed the subject to what they did have.  We need a community of believers to help keep our focus on the positive.

3. Give what we have to God – In verse 9 they gave the five small loaves and two small fish – small things, but in God’s hands can be big.  We should surrender all we have to God our talents, our mind, our body, and our soul.

4. Be still – In verse 10 Jesus instructed the disciples to have the people sit down – take a break, prepare in mind and body to fully receive what the Lord is about to do.  We should slow down and be still in His presence.

5. Give thanks – In verse 11 Jesus gave thanks to The Father for what they had. Give thanks for the small things in our life that God can use to perform a miracle.

6. Expect a miracle plus leftovers – In verse 12 they were all fed and there were even leftovers!  Anticipate that God will provide abundantly more than we can imagine when you put your trust and faith in Him.  I don’t know about you, but I’ll take a “doggie bag” from God.

7. Tell others – In verse 14 the people began to tell others about this miracle.  Be sure to share what God has done in our lives with others.  This is our testimony of God’s love.

Rejoice in the Leftovers

Now don’t get me wrong, our God is not a genie where as we do certain steps, we will get hat we want.  However, our God is one that wants our whole hearts, to surrender to Him, and seek His guidance.  As we seek his wisdom, what we ask for will align with His will.  It is when we are in His will, that He will provide all that we need . . . plus leftovers! Next time you feel overwhelmed, be encouraged in His word.

Serving Others as a Family

Posted on March 8th, 2013 by Tonya Nichols

“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”  -Proverbs 22:6

Why Serve Others?

Serving others in need is what we are commanded by God to do.  Serving as families and teaching our children this virtue is what we are called as parents to do.  We read in Colossians that as we serve others it is really Christ we are serving.  Do we take the time to really ‘see’ Jesus in the face of the person we’re serving?  Do we recognize that he is at the heart of what we’re doing?

Serving is kind of like Christmas – it is fun to get together with other Christians and serve, there’s activity involved, it feels good.  But we can make the mistake that just like Christmas we can forget that Jesus is at the heart of it, that it is something that we should continue to do all through the year.  Serving ought to be a daily lifestyle, not just focused on events a couple times a year.

In order to make serving a lifestyle we need to get involved regularly.  Any ministry can only survive with ongoing year-round volunteer help.  We have to be the church outside of the 4 walls – Be the church in our homes, work place and communities.  We need to cultivate this lifestyle in our family – our children need to see it and they can be involved too.

Our Family

I would like to share one simple way our family has served together year after year.  It has been great for our family to participate in an annual community event called Relay for Life.  We camp out together and walk a relay (all night long) to raise money to support a cure for cancer.  Cancer  is something that has plagued our family for generations.  Teaching our boys about this disease and how God is our ultimate healer has been a blessing.  Talking to cancer survivors and praying withe those currently in the battle has really brought home how others sometimes suffer.

Our kids have been a part of the body of believers in making a difference in the lives of others.  This has been one great way to teach our children about the needs of others, to give them an active role in serving and a reminder of how blessed we are.

Serving takes the focus off of us and makes us think of others.  As we continue as a family to seek ways to get involved in serving outside the walls of the church building our prayer is that our children grow up in that lifestyle and be a part of what God is doing in the real world.

Simplified Volunteer Management

Posted on February 22nd, 2013 by JMorgan

Do you know the definitions of Volunteer or Voluntary?

Has it been awhile?  Me too, so straight from the dictionary:



Someone who does something without being forced to do it.

 

Proceeding  from the will or from one’s own choice or consent; unconstrained by interference. 

These definitions are obviously similar because they are both related to internal motives and are based on personal interests.  However, there are many times when volunteering is not voluntary.  Have you been involved in these “non-voluntary” types of volunteering events?  Are there still rewards from even times like these?  I believe there are, if we can get past ourselves to see them.  The goal is to simplify Volunteer Management.

Reactions to Volunteering

Do you immediately raise your hand when volunteers are requested?  Or do you look for the quickest place to hide in order to avoid volunteering at all costs?  Both of these reactions come from internal drives and are based on personal enthusiasm.  The volume of opportunities and organizations that needs volunteers seems endless because the number of needs to meet is endless. 

We are needy people.  God made us to need Him the most, but I doubt He ranks in most people’s top 5 list.

We need ­­­­__________ and __________ and __________, fill in the blanks that best apply to the needs YOU have.

 

10 Tips for Successful Volunteer Drives

  1. Impress potential volunteers by managing your next Volunteer drive with online sign-up sheets that provide a higher level of organization.
  2. Provide consistent contacts with all volunteers to gain their ongoing support.
  3. Take every opportunity to promote the positive benefits of volunteering.
  4. Never underestimate the value of planning.
  5. Constant communication of details is key to recruiting and retaining volunteers from event to event.
  6. Make it a family affair.
  7. Create a motivating environment by encouraging new ideas and implementing suggestions.
  8. Delegate a majority of the duties to others so you can welcome and direct the volunteers when they arrive.
  9. If creating a donation list, or if you have specific donation needs, create an online list of “suggested” wish list items.
  10. Provide plenty of thanks, recognition and results back to your volunteers at the conclusion of the event.

 

Hopefully, these tips are helpful to you and will increase the success of all your Volunteer drives!  For ideas on creative ways to volunteer and help others click here.