Outreach Ministry: #1 Guide To Creating A Church Outreach Strategy That Works

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Picture this:

Pastor David wans has been trying to grow his church without much result, so he looks for outreach ministry ideas for small churches. 

His search yields list after list with titles like “101 outreach ideas for small churches”. Pastor David finds suggestions to do mental health outreaches, family movie nights, and coffee shop ministries (these are all real examples from Google). All of these options sound like good things, so he implements them into his church. 

Months later, after poor Pastor David has invested a lot of time, money, and effort into these church outreach ideas, he realizes that none of those ideas are generating the growth he had hoped for. 

Pastor David finds himself in the same place he started, but this time with too many ideas instead of no ideas. 

If you feel like the pastor in this story, then this is definitely the article for you. 

But what makes this article different from all the others that don’t produce fruitful ministries? 

The difference is that I’m not going to give you a list of outreach ideas for churches. Instead, I’m going to teach you something much more valuable: how to discover the outreach ideas that will generate fruit in YOUR ministry.

Let’s get right into it!

Why Implementing “Good” Outreach Ideas Is A Bad idea

So before we talk about what works, we need to understand why most church outreach ministry ideas fail. 

The problem is not with the church outreach ministry ideas themselves. 

Mental health outreaches, family movie nights, and coffee shop ministries are all good things. However, just because something is good doesn’t mean that it is what God called you to, and it doesn’t mean that it will create results for YOUR ministry.

church outreach ministry

While many church outreach ministry ideas would be good for the community, they are not truly successful unless they align with the vision God has set for your church. 

If you were to do a thousand outreach events, but only one of those events aligned with God’s calling for your church, then only that one event would help you progress towards God’s vision. 

However, if you were to do only a few outreach events, and all of them aligned with God’s calling on your ministry, all of them would contribute to your progress toward God’s vision.

These events are the outreach ideas that will produce fruit in your ministry. 

It is also important to remember that God’s calling for your church is not the same as His calling for other churches. 

As the Bible says in 1 Corinthians 12, the believers are like the different parts of the body of Christ, each with their own gifts and roles to fulfill.


Together all Christian churches make up the body of Christ, but each individual church represents a different part of the body with a unique purpose.

Because your church has a unique vision, the outreach ministry ideas that work for other churches will not work for yours. 

So how do you build a specific outreach strategy that will grow your church?

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How To Create An Outreach Strategy 

A strategy is a set of predetermined actions that lead to a desired end result. 

A strategy will only work if the strategist’s understanding of the nature of the world and human nature is accurate. 

For example, imagine a driver trying to go to the beach. When the driver uses a GPS, it tells him to take a certain route to get to his destination. However, if there is a mountain in the way that he and his GPS did not account for, then the driver’s strategy to use the GPS to get to the beach will not work. 

In this example, the driver’s understanding of the world was inaccurate, and therefore the driver found a mountain instead of a beach. 

(Is your ministry finding mountains instead of beaches?)

An effective strategy helps increase your ministry’s results while decreasing the total amount of wasted resources. This happens because an effective strategy will allow you to avoid obstacles that waste resources. 

The way that a strategy will help your ministry avoid obstacles is through multidimensional decision making.

Multi-dimensional Decision Making is the act of making a choice based on the consideration of multiple criteria, instead of just one. 

Larger ministries have more resources, so they are less impacted by missed opportunities. This means that larger ministries are much more restrictive in the opportunities they choose to pursue. 

To become a fruitful ministry, it is imperative that you maximize your resources by restricting your outreach ministry ideas.

Now that we have established that multidimensional decision making is the way to most effectively filter through outreach ministry ideas, here are three criteria that will help you make the best church outreach.

#1: The Outreach Ideas Fall in Line with Your Church’s Vision

As we have previously discussed, random, disconnected ideas are not helpful to your church’s vision, so it is important to make sure that all your outreach ideas align with your vision. 

church outreach ministry

For example, if you are a missions-oriented church, it would be better to focus church outreach to audiences who have the ability to engage in missions activities than to do church outreach to the homeless.

When your church outreach ministry works in line with a specific end goal, you make the most of the resources God has given you. Those who are passionate about your church vision will feel fulfilled when they volunteer in your church outreach ministry and help bring your church closer to fulfilling its calling.

However, when you go after outreaches that don’t necessarily contribute to your vision, you detract from the focus of your church. 

Random church outreach ministries will also have a negative effect on the motivation of your congregation because if certain people came to your church for missions, they will be discouraged when they find that most of the outreaches have nothing to do with missions. 

This crushes the passion, engagement, and ownership your congregation will take over your ministry. 

To prevent discouragement, it is important to be clear on what God has called your church to do and to center your outreaches around that vision. 

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#2 The Outreach Meets a Deeply Felt Need

In Luke 5:1-11, Jesus found the disciples, who were fishermen without fish. Seeing their need, He helped them catch so many fish that their nets were breaking. When He gave them a more spiritual calling (“follow Me and I will make you fishers of men”), they were willing to follow Him because He had first met their physical need. 

Jesus uses this same strategy to increase his following throughout His ministry. 

Likewise, you should use your church outreach ministry as a means to meet physical needs. 

Once people have their needs met by the church, they become more willing to accept the gospel and follow your ministry. 

However, it is important your outreach meets a deeply felt need.

Imagine if instead of meeting the disciple’s need for fish, Jesus just started by talking about himself and asking them to follow Him. 

If He had done that, His actions would have been much less impactful, and maybe even frustrated His audience. 

In the same way, it is important that you use outreach to target your audience’s most deeply felt needs in order to maximize the impact you make on them.

church outreach ministry

You may now notice that your outreach ministry opportunities are diminishing because you can no longer just pick a good idea, it must fall in line with your vision and meet a deeply felt need

Side note: When your church meets people’s needs, they will feel compelled to volunteer and help your church in return due to a little known psychological law.

Learn more about this principle and how it can grow your outreach ministry by reading our other article: Commitment To The Church: Best Church Engagement Plan

Let’s look at the last decision making criteria.

#3 The Outreach Consistently Meets Needs

Meeting needs with an outreach ministry is valuable, but it is just as valuable to keep meeting those needs consistently as time passes. When a church continues to provide for people over a long period of time, that shows a commitment to meeting needs. 

That commitment helps to build trust between the church and the community, which will result in people seeking you out every time they have a need. This is why thousands of people followed Jesus through the wilderness and why they will follow you too.

If your church outreach ministry cannot keep meeting needs over time, your ministry will not be sustainable over the long run and will ultimately collapse onto itself. 

While meeting people’s needs once can be powerful, consistently being there for them and supporting them over time will leave a much stronger impression. Those who have been the most blessed by your church are the most likely to come back and play a big role in your ministries.

Now for a recap.

A good outreach idea should:

  1. Be a “good” idea
  2. Align with your church’s vision
  3. Meet a deeply felt need
  4. Consistently meet needs

Once you have come up with an idea that meets those criteria, there is a high likelihood that the church outreach idea will propel your ministry towards healthy growth and fulfillment of God’s vision. 

And that’s it! Now that you have learned the basics of multidimensional decision-making and how to apply it to outreach ministry ideas, it’s time to start creating your outreach strategy. 

If you enjoyed this article on outreach ministry ideas, you will also love our article on getting your congregation engaged in your ministry. You can read it here: Church Marketing Strategy: Get Your Audience To Take Action Now [2022]

Don’t forget to watch our video to learn more about outreach ministry. 
Comment below which outreach ministry ideas are best for your church and vision!

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