“He said to them, ‘Go into the whole world and proclaim the gospel to every creature.’” —Mark 16:15
Outreach can be as simple as you want. The purpose of outreach is ultimately to engage people in a dialogue about faith—especially those who don’t step through the doors of the church.
How do you engage lukewarm Catholics? How do you engage fallen-away Catholics? How do you encounter those who don’t believe in God? How do you meet other Christians and connect with them through conversation? The answer to all of these questions is outreach.
Do you have a heart for the lost?
It is easy in our culture to focus our lives on comfort, which can make us complacent. But as Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has said, “You were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.” Outreach requires us to look outside of ourselves and step into potentially uncomfortable situations.
Do you think about those who don’t know Jesus or who have never experienced the Father’s love? Does it break your heart when you hear stories about someone who had a negative encounter with a Catholic/Christian, which turned them away from God? When you hear the news about a tragedy occurring in a celebrity’s or nonbeliever’s life, does it lead you into prayer? Have you ever been distressed by the idea of someone going to hell?
If you said “yes” to any of the above, you may have a heart for the lost. This is a beautiful gift that helps us see through the Father’s eyes. Ask God to give you a heart for the lost. Ask Him to let you see through His eyes how He loves every single person. Better yet, beg Him for the ability to love like Him.
Be an instrument of the Holy Spirit.
Outreach is something that can happen at all times. It begins in the way you interact with others. Are you a person who is friendly and joyful? Do you seek to share the love of Christ with those whom you meet? Having an open heart can open up others to a deeper conversation.
Don’t feel pressured to push faith on someone, though. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide your conversation and allow a friendship to grow. You may not have the chance to share the gospel in your first meeting, but ask God for the opportunity. He may ask something big of you, and you may be called at some point to be bold. Take courage! As you build a strong prayer life and grow deeper in your faith, continue to ask for guidance and you will start to recognize when the Holy Spirit is prompting you to say more.
Who? And How? Be Creative
To whom is God calling you to reach out? Beyond your fellow parishioners at church, it could be coworkers, neighbors, sports teammates, mom’s group members, parents of your kids’ classmates, the dentist, the doctor, your mechanic, your hairstylist/barber, fellow gym-goers, a barista…the list goes on.
When you are doing something that brings you alive, people notice. Be creative in what you do to meet new people. Also be creative in how you invite others whom you meet into your life.
Here are a few ideas:
- Host a brunch after Mass on Sunday. Invite a family or a group.
- Go to existing events in your town/parish. Mingle and meet new folks!
- Have people over to watch a sports game.
- Invite someone else to go shopping.
- Organize a pickup game of your favorite sport.
- Try to meet a new person after every Sunday Mass.
- Ask for help with a house project.
- Invite others to join you in working at a soup kitchen or volunteering some other way.
There are so many other ways to
meet new people and to reach out to them!
What are your ideas?