How To Start An Outreach Ministry at Your Church

This article was written in collaboration with Reach The Lost.

Are you looking for a way to serve your community locally or a community abroad and share the love of Christ? How about starting an outreach ministry at your church? Now, whether you’re on staff at a church or you’re a passionate volunteer who’s ready to bring the Gospel to your neighborhood, starting a new ministry can be daunting. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming, or even that hard to do.

There are four key steps to launching and growing an outreach ministry through your church. We’ll cover all four of these steps in detail below – and we’ll even share an easy, fast way to kickstart your new Outreach Ministry.

Step 1. Identify a Need

At first glance, it may be difficult knowing where to start with creating a new outreach ministry- but there’s a reason why you’re reading this. You or someone at your church likely has a group of people or a specific community need in mind. It may start with seeing someone in need and knowing ministry is most effective when we work together, to share the love of Jesus through our work.

If you’re just starting out, you may want to focus on only one or two felt needs in your community. Is it after-school tutoring? Is it caring for children in low income countries? Do you know a large group of single moms in your neighborhood? Is there an initiative your local school district or community center wants to start, but they don’t have the volunteer power to make it work?

Those are all opportunities that God may be leading your church members to step into with your new outreach ministry. Start with one need, meet the need with love and excellence, and then, expand from there.

Step 2. Get the Support You Need from Your Church’s Leadership Team

Your church’s leadership team is the key to communicating the vision and empowering the people in your church about the new outreach.

Start by creating a plan for how you’re going to staff, resource, and carry out the new outreach ministry. Who do you want to serve? How many volunteers are needed to start? What does a regular interaction look like where the outreach ministry is serving people in need? What finances and supplies are required to start your outreach efforts? What does the ongoing cost and time commitment look like?

These are all great questions that your pastoral staff and elder board will likely want to know about before giving their support. Be prepared – they may ask more in-depth questions to get better clarity on the vision behind the outreach ministry. This is your chance to share the vision, get great feedback, and ultimately, get their support to better reach your community for Christ. See below for a great ministry in a box solution.

Step 3. Start Gathering Buy-In, Resources, and Volunteers to Help

Step one is complete – you have your vision. Step two – you now have support from your church’s leadership team. Now, it’s time to make logistics a reality! Gather the resources and supplies you need (food, clothing, information packets for international missions, tents/shelter, books, writing materials, backpacks, etc.). Start recruiting volunteers. Share your vision for where the outreach ministry can serve. How can people serve? How can people give? How many volunteers do we need? What training and tools should we give to them?

A great way to cast vision is to connect with different small groups in your church. Ask to meet with each group and share the vision. Open it up for great ideas, see if anyone is interested in volunteering, and talk about how they can best support the new ministry. If you’re focused on launching an international outreach ministry, reach out to incredible organizations already doing this work, start building connections with people in the area where you want to serve. Learn from their wisdom, get their feedback, and start bridging the gap between your church community and their area of need.

With the right supplies and a good base of volunteers, it’s time to make it official!

Step 4. Plan and Host Your First Outreach Opportunity

For years churches have relied on events to grow their church community. Many types of events still work like vision trips and service trips, but let’s think beyond just a one-off event. How do we take outreach opportunities beyond just “serving” and make it something that becomes an ongoing conversation?

You can have outreach opportunities through social media, weekly ‘office hours’ at the church where kids can stop by for tutoring if they need it, and giving your contact info out to different leaders in your community. It can look like people in your congregation empowering children internationally to show them the love of Jesus. What you’re doing through every interaction is showing that the local church isn’t just a building – it’s a group of believers committed to living out our faith to help our community grow and thrive.

Many church plants start as outreach ministries. Your local community may have no idea who you are, but they’ll start asking questions if a group of people starts cleaning sidewalks, changing oil for people, providing great kids games for latchkey kids in your community, and all with smiles and love for others. And on an international level, whole communities can see the transformation and hope that comes from Jesus through the local church. 

Whatever way you decide to do church outreach, it all comes back to the Gospel. How does this event, this interaction, this global outreach even this simple note or card help people see the message of Jesus through our church? It’s not about just getting more people to attend on Sunday mornings. It’s all about helping more people hear the story of the Gospel and letting God reach their lives with His powerful message.

Ready to Launch Your New Outreach Ministry?

What if you’d like just a little bit of help getting your outreach ministry off the ground? We know church leaders are busy, so our Children’s HopeChest team put together an Outreach Ministry in a Box that you can ‘plug and play’ for your church to better reach your community. 

Watch the video below of pastor Dan Schepmann describing Gloria Dei Lutheran Church’s experience with Children’s HopeChest, and contact us to learn how you can launch your church’s outreach ministry!